Red Sox rout Orioles in second game of doubleheader, wild card lead back at two games

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After all that, we’re right back where we were when we began the day.

The Red Sox dropped the first game of today’s doubleheader against the last-place Orioles, but they brought their bats for the nightcap. On the strength of 20 hits, they pushed their Wild Card lead back to two games with an 18-9 victory.

This was a brutal game to watch for many reasons. Brian Matusz, who was making his first start since September 5, gave up six runs over 1 2/3 innings to fall to 1-8 on the season. The young left-hander now has a 10.68 ERA this season, which is the worst ever for a pitcher with a minimum of 10 starts in a season. The previous record holder? Roy Halladay in 2000.

Things weren’t much better with John Lackey. Despite getting 11 runs of support, he couldn’t even qualify for the win. Lackey was pulled in the fifth inning after allowing eight runs on 11 hits and two walks. And had a pretty nasty stare for Terry Francona on the way out. His ERA jumped from 6.19 to 6.49 in the no-decision. If Erik Bedard can’t make it back, it really looks like Alfredo Aceves would be Boston’s third starter in a potential playoff series.

Anyway, this night was about the bats for Boston. Of note, Conor Jackson hit a grand slam and Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-6 with an inside-the-park home run. Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with four RBI while Adrian Gonzalez and Marco Scutaro also had three hits.

The Red Sox will play five of their final eight games against the Orioles. And after watching tonight’s pathetic performance, Red Sox fans should feel pretty good about that. The Rays will open a four-game series against the Yankees tomorrow night. They play seven of their final 10 games against the Bombers.

Must-Click Link: Sherri Nichols, Sabermetic Pioneer

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If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.

While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.

The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.

A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.

A great read and a great history lesson.