The interesting Cowser-Gunnar comparison (plus O's notes)

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He may have gotten off to a slow start with Triple-A Norfolk - he was 3-for-31 there through Wednesday - but O’s 2021 top draft pick Colton Cowser had a heckuva run during his 49-game stint at Double-A Bowie before the outfielder moved up.

To say the least Bowie manager Kyle Moore was impressed with Cowser and his entire game after he joined the Baysox June 28 and had three hits and a homer in his first game.

Before he left recently with his promotion to Norfolk, Cowser hit a walk-off, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to provide a Baysox win on his way out the door. That happened Aug. 28 – exactly two months after his first game with Bowie.

“It was special,” Moore said of Cowser’s play with the Baysox. “He completely dominated offensively. You can look at any number you want, and it was super impressive. Almost to the point where you can compare him with Gunnar Henderson when he was here. They are actually very similar through about the same number of at-bats, so that just tells you how good Cowser was here. Because Gunnar did the same thing. They both dominated this league.’

And Moore has a real point there.

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O's prospect Connor Norby gets honored by the Eastern League (plus O's notes)

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It was a nice honor for an Orioles prospect that might be flying a bit under the radar this year. This despite being tied for the organization lead in home runs with 23.

But Connor Norby, Double-A Bowie second baseman, got some recognition yesterday when he was named the Eastern League Player of the Month for August.

Over 26 games during the month, Norby batted .339/.405/.661 with nine homers and 26 RBIs to go with an OPS of 1.066. He led the league in hits, homers, RBIs and total bases in August and ranked second in slugging and OPS.

The 22-year-old Norby is rated as the Orioles’ No. 12 prospect by both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com.

“Really has the look of a pure hitter,” Bowie manager Kyle Moore said of Norby before Tuesday’s game at Prince George’s Stadium. “Can really drive the ball to right-center. He can hit a homer to right-center off a really good arm. And so, that puts him in position to hit the best stuff. If you have a mid-to-upper 90s fastball, he can take you deep to right-center. If you have a little wrinkle with off-speed, he can take you deep to left-center.”

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O's game blog: Looking for a four-game split in the series finale

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As the Orioles wrap up a four-game series with Toronto tonight, they need a win to split the series. If they can get it, they move back to within 2 1/2 games of Toronto for the final American League wild card spot. A loss would leave them 4 1/2 games out with 25 games to play.

The Orioles offense broke out for a 9-6 win last night. The Orioles scored five runs in the third inning and three in the eighth as they went 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They had gone 1-for-14 with RISP in the Monday doubleheader loss and were batting .119 with RISP (8-for-67) over their previous 11 games before Tuesday night.

Baltimore ended a three-game losing streak. The O’s have won five of eight, eight of 13, 13 of 21 and 21 of their last 34 games.

The Orioles improved to 7-5 against Toronto, a year after going 5-14 versus the Blue Jays. They are now 28-31 on the season in AL East games.

Catcher Adley Rutschman had a two-run double last night and is 6-for-12 this series with four runs and four RBIs. He is 9-for-20 during a five-game hitting streak with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs. He moved into third place on the single-season rookie doubles list for the Orioles with No. 28 last night. He trails only Cal Ripken Jr., who had 32 in 1982, and Eddie Murray's 29 in 1977.

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Grayson Rodriguez was on the mound in Bowie and O's got a big win in Baltimore

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BOWIE, Md. – O’s top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez said he is less focused on results and his pitching line right now, but that should soon change. Last night the 22-year-old right-hander made his second injury rehab start.

He went 1 1/3 innings on 31 pitches last Thursday for high Single-A Aberdeen and went two innings on 40 pitches last night at Double-A Bowie.

The Baysox lost 7-3 to Richmond and Rodriguez took the loss. Over his two innings, he gave up one hit and one run with two walks and four strikeouts. His fastball topped in the 96 mph range, which was fine, he said. After throwing a 1-2-3 first inning with two strikeouts on 11 pitches, he got into some trouble in the second. He allowed a one-out double and that runner eventually scored on a wild pitch. He also walked two that inning.

But Rodriguez right now is mostly looking to get his mechanics in line and the feel for all his pitches as he slowly builds up his pitch count. He is expected to pitch again on Sunday at Bowie.

“Right now we’re focused on how the body feels, how it's moving in a game," he said. "So, really, throwing strikes is No. 1, but No. 2, taking the mechanics we had before the injury and what we had last year and getting back to those moving parts. Like obviously coming back in spring training when you are out in the offseason, that is one big thing, just finding that feel from the season before. That is what we’re doing right now. You know when the body starts moving like we want it to, then we will start worrying about the results.”

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Grayson Rodriguez talks about his two-inning outing at Bowie

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BOWIE, Md. – In his second rehab outing tonight, Orioles top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez allowed one run over two innings, throwing 40 pitches for the Double-A Bowie Baysox against Richmond on a cloudy and drizzly night at Prince George’s Stadium.

Rodriguez used all his pitches, with his fastball topping at 96 mph. He reached 98 in the first inning of his outing last week for High-A Aberdeen.

He rolled through the top of the first, getting the Flying Squirrels, a San Francisco affiliate, 1-2-3 on 11 pitches. His outing began with back-to-back strikeouts on secondary pitches. It looked like the first came via a slider and the second a changeup. A groundout to third completed the three-up-and-out inning.

With one out in the Richmond second, third baseman Casey Schmitt hit a breaking ball that was up in the zone out to left for a double. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a Rodriguez wild pitch for a 1-0 Richmond lead. Rodriguez then walked two straight batters, as he had in his second inning last week, and then ended the second on a strikeout as he reached the 40-pitch count for the night.

Lefty Cade Povich replaced him to start the Richmond third as Rodriguez threw five more pitches in the Bowie bullpen.

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O's game blog: Right-hander Kyle Bradish faces Toronto

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As the Orioles look to get their first win in the four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays they send right-hander Kyle Bradish (3-5, 5.17 ERA) to the mound. Bradish has thrown back-to-back scoreless starts as he gets ready to face this team tonight.

The Orioles (71-64) fell back to 4 1/2 games out of the final AL wild card spot with a doubleheader loss by scores of 7-3 and 8-4 on Monday. The O's have lost three in a row, giving up seven homers and 20 runs in those games. 

Over longer stretches, they have won seven of 12, nine of 15, 12 of 20, 20 of 33 and 24 of their past 40 games.

The Orioles are now 39-27 at home and are 22-10 at home since June 22. 

They were 6-3 this season against Toronto, now 6-5, after going 5-14 with no series wins in the 2021 season series.

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Tough day at the office: O's need to regroup as Toronto series resumes

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As possible results go, this was not good. A split would have been OK, a sweep would have been preferable. But getting swept in a doubleheader to start a big four-game series was not what the Orioles had in mind at 1:05 p.m. Monday afternoon.

O's pitching allowed 15 runs in the two games against Toronto. And now, during a three-game losing streak, the O's have allowed 20 runs and seven home runs.

They have fallen to 71-64 and now are 4 1/2 games behind Toronto for the third and final American League playoff spot.

The Orioles have regrouping to do and quickly. The best they can do now is split this four-game series. But doing that and being 2 1/2 games back, where they started yesterday, sounds a lot better than 4 1/2 games out.

They still have eight of their final 27 games left coming against a Toronto team that they still have a winning record against at 6-5.

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O's game blog: The Toronto series begins at the Yard

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The Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays open a huge three-day, four-game series this afternoon with a straight doubleheader at Camden Yards. Toronto (73-59) is in third-place in the American League East, six games out, and holds the third American League wild card by 2 1/2 games over the Orioles (71-62).

Toronto comes to town off a three-game sweep at Pittsburgh, where they won those games by a combined 12-4 score. Toronto has won five of six, 12 of 17 and 28 of its past 45 games.

The Blue Jays are 35-30 on the road, 27-24 versus AL East teams, 16-14 since Aug. 1 and 23-16 since the All-Star break.

The Orioles went 5-14 last year against Toronto, losing five series and tying one. This year they are 6-3 against the Blue Jays, winning two series and tying one. Baltimore pitching gave up 44 homers and had an 8.49 ERA and 1.750 WHIP over the 19 games of the 2021 season series, but the O’s staff has allowed 12 homers with a 5.01 ERA and 1.430 WHIP this season against the Blue Jays.

As a team last year, Toronto batters hit .313/.383/.582/.965 versus the O’s and averaged 8.05 runs per game. This season they are batting .294/.336/.459/.796 and have given up an average of 5.00 runs per game in the season series.

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Ryan Mountcastle on the big series with Toronto

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As the Orioles begin their huge four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays this afternoon with a doubleheader, they do so with the knowledge that they have played so much better this year against Toronto.

The Orioles went 5-14 versus the Blue Jays last year and their team ERA was 8.49. Toronto scored 153 runs in those 19 games. This season the Orioles are 6-3 versus Toronto, winning two series and splitting another. The team ERA is 5.01, with 45 runs allowed in the nine games.

“We’ve just pitched them better,” the O’s Ryan Mountcastle said in the clubhouse this morning in sizing up the team’s better play this year in the season series. “I think we put up a decent amount of runs last year against them. They have an insane lineup - top three in baseball, probably - and it was just keeping them in the yard, and I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of that this year."

The Orioles may have to win some higher-scoring games in this series, and have won games this year against Toronto by scores of 6-5, 7-4 and 6-5.

“They have a great offense and we are going to have to just outscore them," Mountcastle said. "Score some runs, and we've got to have some good approaches today, and hopefully we get a couple today."

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DL Hall has a big fastball, but his changeup has made nice gains this year

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For O’s bullpen lefty DL Hall, it is nice to be able to touch 98 mph with his fastball as he did in a scoreless eighth inning on Saturday night at Camden Yards. He can and has hit triple digits with the pitch.

But he said Sunday that is not the pitch that has shown the most improvement for him this year.

“I can lean on my changeup a little bit more this year than last year,” said Hall. “Last year it was still a plus-plus pitch for me, but I feel like this year with getting the reps to throw it throughout a full season, I can rely on it a little bit more. And just have a better feel of it.”

Hall got a popup and strikeouts Saturday of Seth Brown, on a changeup and Shea Langeliers on a 98 mph fastball during his 1-2-3 inning on 15 pitches with 10 strikes. He made quick work of the Oakland No. 3-4-5 hitters.

His fastball averaged 97.8 mph and his changeup averaged 86.3 mph and Hall said a separation of anywhere from eight to 12 mph between those pitches is what he shoots for.

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O's game blog: Orioles look for sweep in Oakland series finale

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The Orioles win on Friday night over Oakland, by a 5-2 score, came with the help of three late runs in the eighth inning. Their 8-1 win last night came via early offense as they built a 6-1 lead by the fourth inning.

Today, the Orioles (71-61) go for a series sweep of Oakland. They have swept two three-game series this year, both versus Texas, at home July 4-6 and at Texas Aug. 1-3. They swept a four-game series July 7-10 versus the Los Angeles Angels at Camden Yards.

The Orioles are looking for their first sweep of the A's since a four-game set in Baltimore from Aug. 14-17, 2015, and their first season series victory over Oakland since 2017 (4-3). The teams have split six games this year. 

Baltimore begins play today 1 1/2 games behind Toronto for the final American League wild-card berth, and they are 3 1/2 games back for the first and second wild card spots.

The eight runs last night were the most by the Orioles since their 15-10 win over Boston Aug. 19.

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O's Mullins on big night of offense and taking care of business so far this series

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It sounds a little strange to say this about an Orioles team that won just 52 games last year, but they have avoided any letdown this weekend against an Oakland team with the worst record in the American League at 49-85.

The Orioles beat the Athletics 5-2 Friday and 8-1 last night behind five home runs. 

This series followed the strong road trip where Baltimore went 4-2 at Houston and Cleveland against two first-place teams, and precedes a huge series against Toronto that starts tomorrow afternoon. It was positioned where if the O's had taken their foot off the gas pedal, we may have seen different results. 

O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins said his team has taken care of business so far this weekend.

“At the end of the day they are still a major league team to be taken seriously,” said Mullins, who hit his 13th homer last night. “No matter what their record shows or how they are playing recently. If I’m not mistaken, they gave the Yankees a hard time not too long ago (they did, splitting a four-game series). That shows that. So, to come out and take the series and have a chance to get a sweep, that just shows where our mentality is to come out and play so hard every game.”

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Robinson Chirinos on his service time milestone

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Saturday was a special day for Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos. He reached 10 years of Major League service time, something that fewer than 10 percent of all MLB players have ever achieved.

He's a player that's worked hard for everything he's ever gotten. He played 10 seasons in the minors before his first call to the big leagues. Once he got there for the first time in 2011, he stuck around for a while and is still going at it.

He admitted yesterday there is a chance this will be his final season, but that decision has not been made yet. For now, he said he is enjoying baseball as much as ever. He’s loved being an Oriole, and manager Brandon Hyde said Saturday his impact on this team this year has been vast.

“That is an awesome, awesome accomplishment for a major league player," he said before the game. "Congratulations to Robbie. That is a huge deal to players to get that milestone. We’re going to celebrate that with him today.

“I had talked to people about what kind of teammate and person he was. But he has exceeded those lofty expectations in how much he has impacted our team, our clubhouse, our dugout. He makes players around him better. He’s made our whole clubhouse better. He’s helped change the culture of our team. And I can’t thank him enough for that,” said Hyde. 

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O's game blog: O's look for two in a row over Oakland

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After a series-opening 5-2 win Friday night behind that three-run rally in the last of the eighth, the Orioles host Oakland again tonight in the second of a three-game series. A win tonight would give Baltimore another series win with a chance for a Sunday sweep.

The Orioles (70-61) are nine games over .500 for the first time since May 20, 2017. They have won three in a row, five of seven, seven of 10, 10 of 15 and 22 of their last 35 games.

The Orioles are now 38-24 at home (.613) and 1-0 on this 10-game homestand. They will play 16 of the next 21 games at Oriole Park, where they are 21-7 in the last 28 home games.

Best home records in the AL:

.692 - New York Yankees (45-20)
.683 - Houston (43-20)
.652 - Tampa Bay (43-23)
.613 - Orioles (38-24)

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The 2019 draft picks all in same lineup and Chirinos celebrates a milestone

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This is kind of a special night for the Orioles’ No. 1 rated farm system. For the first time ever, the top three Baltimore draft picks from the 2019 draft – Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Stowers – will all be in the starting lineup together for the parent club.

The trio were the first three picks by Mike Elias after he took over as the Orioles' executive vice president and general manager in the fall of 2018. The club took Rutschman with the overall No. 1 pick in June 2019, with Henderson at No. 42 and Stowers at No. 71.

At the end of last season, Rutschman and Stowers shared the Brooks Robinson Award as the Orioles' Minor League co-Players of the Year, and Henderson seems highly likely to win the honor this year.

“It’s really special,” Stowers said this afternoon in the O’s clubhouse. “Coming in together, we were the first three picks of the new front office. The coolest part to see is not only how we have grown so much as baseball players, but we all have become so close. It’s like rooting for your best friends. The fact we get to share the field together, be on a team together and chase after something so special as a playoff race, can’t beat it.”

In a clubhouse where the Orioles seem to be such a close-knit team, these three are the same way, but their friendship had origins in Sarasota, Bowie and Norfolk.

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O's pull it out in the eighth to get the homestand off to strong start

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As the Orioles look to cut into their deficit in the American League wild-card race, they now get to do so for a long stretch at home. Baltimore beat Oakland 5-2 last night and that was just night one of a 10-game homestand.

It started a stretch where the Orioles will play 17 of their next 22 games at home  and they will be home for 20 of their last 32 games starting Friday.

This should be good news throughout Birdland as the team is 38-24 (.613) with one of the best home records in the league. They are 21-7 in their last 28 home games since June 22.

Tied 2-2 in the eighth last night, the O's pulled out a win on Adley Rutschman's pinch-hit bases loaded walk and a Jorge Mateo two-run single.

The Orioles (70-61) improved to nine games over the .500 mark for the first time since May 20, 2017. After starting April this year going 7-14, the Orioles are 63-47 since May 1.

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O's game blog: Orioles open 10-game homestand vs. Oakland

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After completing a 4-2 road trip with series wins at Houston and Cleveland against first-place teams, tonight the Orioles begin a home series with the club with the worst record in the American League. They host Oakland (49-83) for the first of a three-game series and 10-game homestand that later includes four games with Toronto and three with Boston.

The Orioles are 37-24 (.607) at Oriole Park, where they now play the next 10 and 17 of the next 22 games. They have 20 of their remaining 32 games at home. They have the fourth-best home winning percentage in the American League. 

The Orioles (69-61) begin tonight 1 1/2 games behind Toronto for the third and final AL wild card spot. They are 3 1/2 games back of the second wild card and four games behind the first wild card berth in the league. The Orioles have won seven of 10, 10 of 15, 22 of 35 and 39 of the last 61 games.

In winning four of six games on the road trip, O’s pitching allowed just nine runs and O’s batters scored just 14. The club has pitched back-to-back shutouts, had three in six games on the trip and has 13 on the year. The Orioles take a 21-inning scoreless streak into this Oakland series. The O’s team ERA on the road trip was 1.56. O’s pitching has allowed just 27 runs the last 11 games, yielding three or fewer in eight of those 11. The Baltimore bullpen threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings the past three days.

O’s starting pitchers have seven quality starts the past eight games, with an ERA of 1.70 in that span. They have allowed two earned runs or fewer nine times the last 10 games, pitching to a 1.83 ERA of in that span. Last night, Kyle Bradish became the first Oriole ever to record consecutive scoreless starts while throwing seven innings or more and allowing two hits or fewer.

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Hearing from Gunnar Henderson ahead of his Oriole Park debut tonight

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To say the least, it’s been a strong first two big league games for baseball’s No. 1 prospect, per Baseball America, Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson.

He’s made solid plays at third base and shortstop as O’s pitching posted back-to-back shutouts at Cleveland. At the plate he is 3-for-8 and hit his first big league homer in his first game and second at-bat.

The Orioles have gone 2-0 with Henderson in their lineup. What’s been the best part for the kid during his first two days in the majors?

“Just going out there to accomplish a dream that has been one of mine for a long time," said Henderson, who is batting eighth tonight against Oakland lefty JP Sears and playing at second base. "And especially to have my family there to experience it as well was really awesome. Couldn’t ask for a better day.”

Tonight he plays his first home game at Camden Yards and gets to hear another Baltimore edition of the national anthem.

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Grayson Rodriguez upbeat about his first game action in three months

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ABERDEEN, Md. – For right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles and MLB's top pitching prospect, it was a big first step in his return from injury. He was back on a mound for the first time in three months last night and pitched into the second inning for high Single-A Aberdeen against Hickory at Ripken Stadium.

Rodriguez allowed one single and no runs in 1 1/3 innings, throwing 31 pitches, 17 for strikes with six swings and misses. His fastball topped at 98 mph on the stadium gun and he was pleased with his outing. He gave up some loud contact in the first and left his outing after one out back-to-back walks in the second.

But he was healthy and he was back.

“I felt great. It was a lot of fun to go back out there. My heart hadn’t pumped like that in a while, so good to get back out there,” said Rodriguez, who left a start on June 1 with Triple-A Norfolk with a Grade 2 right lat strain.

“It was tremendous. Being able to warm up, walk on the mound before the game. Smell the ballpark and see the lights and everything, it was fantastic,” he said.

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O's game blog: The series and road trip finale at Cleveland

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Coming off Wednesday’s 4-0 win at Cleveland, the Orioles now have a chance to win this series and end their road trip to Houston and Cleveland with a pair of series wins. They will have a 4-2 road trip if they win the series finale tonight.

The Orioles (68-61) were eight games over .500 once this year, after the second game at Houston, and would be eight over with a victory tonight.

They have won four of six, six of nine and nine of the last 15 games. Over longer stretches, they have won 17 of 27, 21 of 34, 33 of 50 and are 44-26 (.620) since June 11. The Orioles are 47-31 (.603) since June 1 and are 61-47 (.565) since May 1.

They are two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays (70-59) for third place in the American League East. More importantly, they're also two games in back of the Jays for the third AL wild card spot. Toronto is off today and begins a series at Pittsburgh on Friday. On Monday the Orioles and Toronto play a doubleheader at Camden Yards to begin a three-day, four-game series.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish (2-5, 5.63 ERA) will be making his 17th start in tonight's series finale. On Friday at Houston he pitched what manager Brandon Hyde said was the best game by any O’s starter this year. Over eight innings he blanked the Astros on just two hits with two walks, throwing six strikeouts on 96 pitches.

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