Tag:Tony La Russa
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:47 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 5



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have moved ahead in the World Series, 3-2, and are just one game shy of their first World Series championship. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark. Oh, and the picture of Adrian Beltre's home run from his knee is here just because it was funny. No other reason.

• Of the previous 41 World Series that entered Game 5 tied at two, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 27 times (66 percent). So while it's definitely not over, odds and history are on the Rangers' side.

• "Pujols is going to put it in play, he's a good contact hitter, and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag." - Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said of the huge strike-him-out-throw-him-out play in the ninth, which seemed to ice the game.

• Remember the Cardinals' "happy flight" mantra? How they were on a huge streak of always flying either home or away coming off a victory. Well, both flights in this World Series are following losses. So now they're having sad flights.

World Series Game 5
• "It was just a mix up. It was a mix up and on our team, no one gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Allen Craig's attempted stolen base with Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh. Craig was thrown out by Napoli and then Pujols was intentionally walked. Had Craig made it, Pujols would have been intentionally walked, so it was obviously a mistake. But we know La Russa definitely didn't call for it.

C.J. Wilson walked 19 hitters this postseason, which ties Jaret Wright (1997, Indians) for the most ever. If Wilson comes back in relief in Game 7 -- which he wouldn't rule out when talking to reporters after Game 5 -- he'll have a good shot at dubious history.

• Monday was the birthday for both Arthur Rhodes (42) and Rafeal Furcal (34).

• The Cardinals set a record Monday night. They have made 65 pitching chances in the playoffs this year. The previous high was 62, established by the 2002 Giants. I have to say, I'm shocked Tony La Russa was behind this.

• "Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board," Napoli said of his huge two-RBI double. "I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap."

• "I don't know, I mean, not really," Napoli said when asked if he was surprised to see left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the game to face him in the bottom of the eighth. "I had Mitch hitting behind me who was a lefty and I didn't really see anyone warming up in the bullpen.

• "I wanna be a complete player," Napoli said when asked about his defense. "I'm trying hard on the defensive side."

• Cowboys great Roger Staubach threw out the first pitch. Did he practice? "I did, yeah. I was throwing really good in practice, you know. But it's a little different on that rubber. It's a downhill slant. I played baseball, so I should have -- I threw it really hard. That was my problem. I probably should have just -- it was a little low. I mean, it wasn't a strike."

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan on Ron Washington's dugout antics: "It's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows."

Derek Holland loves Mario -- of the video game series -- so much so that he has a "Super Mario" balloon likeness in his locker. "He's really fragile, so I just leave him here all the time."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:24 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 5



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have moved ahead in the World Series, 3-2, and are just one game shy of their first World Series championship. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark. Oh, and the picture of Adrian Beltre's home run from his knee is here just because it was funny. No other reason.

• Of the previous 41 World Series that entered Game 5 tied at two, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 27 times (66 percent). So while it's definitely not over, odds and history are on the Rangers' side.

• "Pujols is going to put it in play, he's a good contact hitter, and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag." - Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said of the huge strike-him-out-throw-him-out play in the ninth, which seemed to ice the game.

• Remember the Cardinals' "happy flight" mantra? How they were on a huge streak of always flying either home or away coming off a victory. Well, both flights in this World Series are following losses. So now they're having sad flights.

• "It was just a mix up. It was a mix up and on our team, no one gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Allen Craig's attempted stolen base with Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh. Craig was thrown out by Napoli and then Pujols was intentionally walked. Had Craig made it, Pujols would have been intentionally walked, so it was obviously a mistake. But we know La Russa definitely didn't call for it.

C.J. Wilson walked 19 hitters this postseason, which ties Jaret Wright (1997, Indians) for the most ever. If Wilson comes back in relief in Game 7 -- which he wouldn't rule out when talking to reporters after Game 5 -- he'll have a good shot at dubious history.

• Monday was the birthday for both Arthur Rhodes (42) and Rafeal Furcal (34).

• The Cardinals set a record Monday night. They have made 65 pitching chances in the playoffs this year. The previous high was 62, established by the 2002 Giants. I have to say, I'm shocked Tony La Russa was behind this.

• "Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board," Napoli said of his huge two-RBI double. "I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap."

• "I don't know, I mean, not really," Napoli said when asked if he was surprised to see left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the game to face him in the bottom of the eighth. "I had Mitch hitting behind me who was a lefty and I didn't really see anyone warming up in the bullpen.

• "I wanna be a complete player," Napoli said when asked about his defense. "I'm trying hard on the defensive side."

• Cowboys great Roger Staubach threw out the first pitch. Did he practice? "I did, yeah. I was throwing really good in practice, you know. But it's a little different on that rubber. It's a downhill slant. I played baseball, so I should have -- I threw it really hard. That was my problem. I probably should have just -- it was a little low. I mean, it wasn't a strike."

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan on Ron Washington's dugout antics: "It's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows."

Derek Holland loves Mario -- of the video game series -- so much so that he has a "Super Mario" balloon likeness in his locker. "He's really fragile, so I just leave him here all the time."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:50 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:26 am
 

Grading Game 5 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers took a pivotal Game 5 of the series with a 4-2 victory Monday night. Let's hand out some grades yet again.

Mike Napoli was obviously an A, but we're already covered him ... twice. There's no need to go overboard with the love-fest, so I'm going off the board. True baseball fans have been winning all series, because it's been an amazing series; one of the best since the epic 2001 clash between the Yankees and Diamondbacks. So we'll give both teams an A for the entertainment so far. Speaking for myself only -- and I still consider myself a fan -- I'd like to thank both teams and tell them to keep it up. This is outstanding. We've had close games, huge hits, great defensive plays, a historic performance by Albert Pujols and a near-historic performance by Derek Holland. I just can't say enough about how great this series has been. And we may get two more games. We'll see, but it's hard to fathom this thing getting boring.

World Series Game 5
A huge reason the Rangers came into the series so hot was the bridge Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman were providing to the eighth inning. But then both had been bad so far in the World Series -- pretty awful, in fact -- leaving a big question mark on what was supposed to be one of the Rangers' strengths. Maybe the rest provided by Holland in Game 4 helped, because while neither were sparkling Monday night, the decent outings had to be encouraging. Ogando allowed two hits and three walks in his inning, but two of those walks were intentional and his stuff looked more crisp. Feldman gave up a hit upon entering the game, but then got two big outs to end a threat, including a big strikeout.

The Rangers' defense has seemed a bit fickle this entire series, even if you can tell how much ability they have. The bad and good pretty much cancelled each other out Monday. David Murphy couldn't pick up a ball in the second, allowing Lance Berkman to advance to third. Then Berkman scored because Mitch Moreland botched what probably should have been a double-play ball. Of course, Murphy then made a spectacular diving catch to get out of the inning. Next inning, Moreland and C.J. Wilson teamed up to look like the Bad News Bears on a Furcal single, but a beautiful double play ended the inning. Later in the game, Elvis Andrus should have robbed Yadier Molina of a hit with an incredible across-the-body jump and throw, but Moreland couldn't dig the throw at first. But then in the seventh and the ninth, Napoli hosed Allen Craig at second on stolen base attempts.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa claims he called for "Motte" and not "Lynn" in the eighth inning, but, in the noise of the ballpark, the bullpen coach inadvertently heard "Lynn" and got the wrong guy up to throw. So La Russa didn't have the guy he wanted ready to face Napoli in that huge spot in the bottom of the eighth. He wanted Jason Motte, but Lance Lynn was in the bullpen. So La Russa kept left-hander Marc Rzepcyznski out there, who gave up the game-losing double. Considering Washington said "yes, I've had that happen before," about the phone gaffe, we'll grant La Russa a pass and only give him a D for the mishap. Still, isn't there something the Cardinals could have done there instead of letting a left-handed specialist face one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup?

The Cardinals ability to take advantage of baserunners was abysmal. They left 12 men on base, including eight in scoring position. They also had Craig thrown out twice on stolen base attempts. Seven hits, nine walks and a hit-by-pitch ... and two runs is all you come up with? That's awful. Easiest F I've ever given. Matt Holliday, if I can single someone out, needs to bring a lot more to the table, or Pujols isn't going to see a pitch worth swinging at the rest of the series.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:46 am
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Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:31 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 4



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The story was Derek Holland, but the Rangers gave a full team effort Sunday night in evening up the World Series at two wins apiece. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark.

Mike Napoli will get plenty of credit for his offense this series, and rightfully so. But I was thinking ... back in Los Angeles, Angels manager Mike Scioscia used to justify playing Jeff Mathis over Napoli on a regular basis because of "catcher's ERA." You know, the ERA of the pitching staff with a certain catcher behind the plate. It's one of the main reasons the Angels let Napoli's bat go. Napoli's catcher's ERA this World Series? 1.38. Yorvit Torrealba's? 13.00. Of course it's a small sample, but it's worth noting: The Rangers pitchers don't exactly seem to get worse with Napoli behind the plate.

World Series
Something you didn't see on TV: The Rangers took the field in the top of the ninth inning without a pitcher for a while. Eventually, Holland emerged from the dugout and the crowd erupted.

• "I've seen it before, this was not the first dominant outing that Derek Holland had," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. Fellow starter Colby Lewis expressed the same sentiment in the locker room to a reporter who asked if it was the best Holland's ever pitched. People seem to be either forgetting or just ignorant to the fact that Holland threw four shutouts this year, including three in July. This wasn't the worst pitcher ever finding some magic out of the blue. It was just Holland digging deep and pitching to his potential.

• "If you wanna stay out here, you get on your knees." - Washington, on what he said to Holland when removing him from the game in the ninth. A complete-game shutout from Holland would have marked the first World Series shutout from an AL pitcher since Jack Morris in 1991.

• It's no secret Lance Berkman is a much better hitter from the left side of the plate, but it's been a different story in the World Series. He's evidently locked in from both sides of the plate. going 4-for-8 as a right-hander and 3-for-7 as a left-hander.

• "He worked us over, give him credit." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Holland's performance.

• The 51,539 in attendance were a Rangers Ballpark season high, and the seventh-most in stadium history.

• "I wanted to execute all my pitches, that was the main thing," said Holland. "I wanted to go after these hitters. I wanted to show that I belong here. That was the main thing, I wanna make a name for myself. At the same time, I wanna get momentum back on our side."

• "I was looking up, and I got a pitch up that I could handle," Napoli said of his three-run shot.

• "I thought it was a double play waiting to happen," La Russa said of bringing in Mitchell Boggs to face Napoli.

• Napoli became the first catcher with a multi-homer World Series since Mike Piazza of the Mets did so in 2000.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 7:18 pm
 

Instant replay in MLB? Torre and La Russa



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- In light of the botched Ron Kulpa call at first base in Game 3, discussion of expanded instant replay has once-again ramped up.

As a refresher, here's a GIF of the play, courtesy of SB Nation:



Rangers manager Ron Washington, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Major League Baseball's vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre spoke with the media before Sunday night's Game 4 on the matter.

"All I want is to get the play right, that's all," said Washington. "And sometimes umpires don't get it right, and there's nothing you can do about it.

"You know, we brought in instant replay for the home run. I think in the World Series, for plays like last night, maybe we can find a way to get the play right."

And he's right. We can't be sure of what the perfect system would entail in baseball just yet, but there's far too much technology at our disposal to allow an easily correctable call to just stand and move on -- especially when the umpire himself knows he messed up.

More Coverage
"Ron Kulpa came in, and I was in the umpires' dressing room afterwards, and he walked in. The first thing out of his mouth was that he had to see the play. He said, 'I missed it, did I miss it?'" Torre said, also adding that anyone questioning Kulpa's integrity -- he's a born-and-raised St. Louis native -- is crossing the line.

And I agree with Torre. Kulpa absolutely nailed the biggest call of Game 2 when he called Ian Kinsler safe on a ninth-inning stolen base. If he was in the bag for the Cardinals, he calls Kinsler out. It's very simple. So the focus should be entirely on replay, not Kulpa's honest mistake.

La Russa seems to feel Kulpa's pain, as well as any other umpire who has made an honest error and been vilified for it.

"My two cents is more in favor of looking at it. I think, as long as it doesn't affect the game as far as slowing it down, I think the umpires are -- it's unfair," La Russa said, when discussing that he'd like the umpires to get more help and take less blame. "And if there's a way to ease that burden, some limited additions are going to be discussed, and we'll see where it goes."

When asked if there was a chance that MLB would implement further replay measures, Torre seemed to give a bit of a contradictory message.

"Well, I'd say drop it, but I don't want people to think that we're stubborn about this," Torre said. He later noted that he's worried about delays.

"To me, wholesale replay, I think is going to disrupt the flow of the game. That's just my opinion. Am I old school? Yeah, I am old school, but I'm not ignoring the new technology that's available to us, and we're going to do everything we can to make the game better."

Only by refusing to implement simple additional measures -- even if only in the postseason -- MLB is certainly ignoring new technology. And what about the delay when a manager argues with the umpire? In a replay system, it's possible they just challenge a play or whatever the system might be instead of a five-minute argument delay.

"That's certainly legitimate," Torre said when asked about the time spent arguing calls. "That question is certainly legitimate, but they're not all going to be that clear-cut. Again, it's still not going to keep the manager from arguing, it's not going to keep the player from arguing before you go to replay."

And, again, I'd ask why they can't just review and overturn the clear-cut plays and ignore the close ones? Torre might say they don't want to be stubborn, but it's pretty evident Major League Baseball is being very stubborn on the use of video replay, at least for now.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:02 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 4:01 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 3



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cardinals took Game 3 of the World Series with some pretty huge offense. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark.

• Don't forget about Allen Craig. He had two huge hits in the first two games of the series and then hit a home run in his first at-bat of Game 3. As we noted in the Game 3 preview, the designated hitter actually gives the NL team the advantage in this series, as the Cardinals can get Craig's bat into the lineup, while the Rangers only get to add the likes of either Yorvit Torrealba or Mitch Moreland. The Rangers have a sick lineup, too, but seeing Craig, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and David Freese through the thick of the lineup is pretty imposing.

• Yes, first-base umpire Ron Kulpa is a born-and-raised St. Louis-area resident. I'm sure plenty of fans will latch onto that in the coming days and find it means that he had bias on the play. It's a ridiculous notion because, first of all, Kulpa was accountable for his mistake. "I saw a replay when I walked off the field, and the tag was applied before his foot hit the bag," he said after the game. If there was a hidden bias, he probably wouldn't own his mistake.

Secondly, if you still think he made the errant call on purpose, you're gonna have to explain why he called Ian Kinsler safe on a bang-bang play in Game 2. If Kulpa was in the bag for the Cardinals, he could have easily called Kinsler out and the Cardinals would have likely won that game, too.

World Series, Game 3
• Should Kulpa have asked for help? "No. On that type of play, I'm not going to ask for help. Ron (Washington) didn't ask me to get any help, either."

• Rangers manager Ron Washington on the call: "Well, he missed the play, and I knew he missed the play when I went out there. We still had an opportunity to get off that field with maybe them just pushing one run across the plate. We just didn't make the plays. I mean, I don't think you can just start all of a sudden making excuses about things. We had a chance to get off the field with them scoring one run in that inning right there, and we just threw the ball around in that inning, and it really messed up Harrison's outing because he was throwing the ball well."

• Neither Josh Hamilton nor the Rangers will say much about it, but when he had to throw on the brakes at third base in the bottom of the fifth inning, that had to have hurt his tweaked groin. Nothing brings out pain in leg muscle injuries like having to stop on a dime from full speed.

• "The thing I liked best was that he was working good counts all night," hitting coach Mark McGwire said to a handful of reporters in the hallway after the game of Albert Pujols' performance.

• Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki on throwing out the first pitch: "My last one in July was a little high. This time they told me to throw a four-seam fastball. I still don't understand what that means. But I think that's the grip I had. Or was it a two-seam fastball? No, I forgot. It worked out better the last time. Everybody just told me don't throw it low, so I left it way high, and Michael Young almost pulled a hamstring trying to jump and get it, and this time I think he could stay in the stance and catch it. So it was better."

• Cardinals manager Tony La Russa moved past Bobby Cox and into second place in the all-time record books. La Russa is now 16 wins behind Joe Torre for first.

• Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn on his outing: "You know, that's what this game is all about, who's going to be the guy that comes in and is able to get multiple innings in a game like that because both offenses were on tonight. Somebody had to come in and try to calm the storm, I guess, and I was able to make a couple pitches, and I actually got away with some pitches, too. So to be able to come in and get a couple outs there and not have to go in our bullpen any deeper, I felt like that was good movement on the rest of the series."

• Lots of attention is being paid to Alexi Ogando's issues this series, but Scott Feldman had a terrible outing Saturday night, too. Feldman and Ogando were an incredible bridge to the late-innings guys in the ALDS and ALCS but have faltered this series.

• Lost in the Cardinals' offensive hooplah: Matt Holliday is now just 2-for-11 in the World Series.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 9:49 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 4:04 pm
 

World Series Game 3: Offense on the way



By Matt Snyder


Rangers at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m. ET, Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, Texas. Series is tied 1-1.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Can two slumping offenses magically reappear to what they were heading into the World Series? Of course they can, simply by taking the flight from St. Louis to Dallas-Fort Worth. First of all, the temperature will be about 20 degrees higher, give or take a few. Secondly, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was the top offensive stadium in the majors for both runs scored and home runs this season, while Busch Stadium rated out as a pretty significant pitcher's park this year.

The Cardinals aren't denying the difference.

"The ball does carry here, and you're going to have some danger if you don't hit your spots," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Friday in Arlington.

"It's a tough place to pitch, especially when you see those flags blowing in," said St. Louis' Game 3 starter Kyle Lohse. "It usually means that jet stream is going out to right-center. I think everyone in the league knows that. Coming in you've got to keep the ball down, especially against this lineup."

Oh, and of course the pitchers look a bit different. While we've seen recent struggles from C.J. Wilson of the Rangers and Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals, there wasn't much question the two had the ability to provide some quality innings. Colby Lewis has a great postseason history and Chris Carpenter is, well, Chris Carpenter. So when you factor in the weather and ballpark, it shouldn't seem a complete shock that the first two games were mostly a pitcher's paradise. The Game 3 starters aren't awful by any stretch, but they're a step down from what we saw in the first two games. And the conditions for them are the complete opposite of what the pitchers had in St. Louis.

Simply: The scoreboard operator is likely to be busy. 

World Series Coverage
PITCHING MATCHUP

Harrison vs. Cardinals:
The 26-year-old left-hander was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.28 WHIP this season and he's 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA in two postseason starts. Like I said, he doesn't suck. He has never faced the Cardinals and no St. Louis hitter of relevance has a large enough sample size to draw any conclusions.

Lohse vs. Rangers: The 33-year-old right-hander was 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.17 WHIP this season. Eerily similar numbers to Harrison.

In 52 2/3 career innings against the Rangers, Lohse has been dreadful. He has a 6.66 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and has coughed up 14 homers.

But.

He hasn't seen them since 2006 or gotten hit hard by the Rangers since 2005. He doesn't really know these Rangers well, other than Michael Young. Young vs. Lohse has taken place 31 times. Young is hitting just .233 off Lohse, but four of his seven hits are of the extra-base variety, including three homers. Adrian Beltre has homered of Lohse, but it's his only hit in nine tries. Ian Kinsler is 0-for-2 and Mike Napoli is 0-for-5. 

LINEUPS

Cardinals Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 Allen Craig RF 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Matt Holliday LF 4 Michael Young DH
5 Lance Berkman DH 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 David Freese 3B 6 Nelson Cruz RF
7 Yadier Molina C 7 Mike Napoli 1B
8 Jon Jay CF 8 David Murphy LF
9 Ryan Theriot 2B 9 Yorvit Torrealba C
SP Kyle Lohse RHP SP Matt Harrison LHP


NOTES

• With Harrison being left-handed, that means switch-hitting Lance Berkman will be hitting from the right side of the plate. Berkman hit .307 with a .998 OPS left-handed this season, but just .277 and .804 as a right-hander. Berkman is 0-for-3 against Harrison in his career.

• It's worth noting that Harrison's ERA during the regular season was nearly a run worse at home than on the road.

• Lohse has been terrible this postseason, racking up 13 hits and eight earned runs in just 9 2/3 innings pitched across two starts. And he now gets to face a better offense in a better hitter's park. 

• Cardinals supersub Allen Craig is 5-for-10 with a home run and five RBI in the NLCS and World Series. He's now going to be in the lineup for three games as things shift to the AL ballpark, with Craig taking right field and Berkman moving to DH. That is a huge advantage for the Cardinals, as they add Craig's bat to the lineup while the Rangers only get to add either Mitch Moreland or Yorvit Torrealba. So the designated hitter rule ends up helping the National League team, who is only using it because the American League team is at home. Definitely an interesting twist as the games shift to Texas for three.

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