And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Rockies 4, Marlins 3: The Rockies won this game but the Marlins took the 1993 Expansion Cup for this season, closing out the year with a 4-3 record against Colorado. What — you don’t keep track of the 1993 Expansion Cup? There’s a great ceremony at the end of the series each year in which either David Neid or Nigel Wilson hand the other a teal-and-purple loving cup while “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect in plays over the loudspeaker. It’s one of the most majestic events in sports each year. And you weren’t aware of it? For shame.

Giants 4, Pirates 0: What this season could have been if Ryan Vogelsong had pitched like he did last year. Of course last year was kind of a shocker, so I guess it was too much to ask. He was oh so good yesterday afternoon, however, throwing eight innings of shutout ball against the Pirates to earn the series split.

Blue Jays 2, Astros 1: Shut out for eight innings, the Jays rallied for both of their two runs in the ninth. That spoiled a nice day for Dallas Keuchel, who tossed seven shutout innings. It was a nice pick-me-up for Mark Buehrle, however, who allowed one run over eight and otherwise would have had a pretty damn tough luck loss.

Braves 5, Cardinals 2: The Bravos salvage one against the Cardinals, avoiding a four-game sweep behind a nice outing from Mike Minor. Finally a decent game for Jordan Schafer, who hit a double, a triple and drove in a run. In the three previous games filling in the leadoff spot for Jason Heyward Schafer had gone 0 for 12 with five strikeouts.

Royals 6, Nationals 4: The Royals finally pull out of the seven-game losing skid that basically cost them any hope at the playoffs. A key play in this game: Billy Butler chugging down the line to first base while Adam LaRoche chased a ball he had knocked down but which had eluded him. I reckon we haven’t seen two slower guys in a race on the same play since the 1950s.

Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 5: Not a bad day for Roy Halladay considering he has only had a couple of minor league rehab starts — neither of which were spectacular — and given that he was basically rushed into service after Ryne Sandberg had to empty his bullpen and then some during Saturday night’s marathon game. Halladay threw six innings of two-run ball. He struck only two and his fastball is a shadow of its former self. But as we said back in the spring: the rest of Halladay’s career appears to be contingent upon him learning to be a crafty, old, occasionally junkballing vet. If he can do that, we may have several years left of him. If not, we’re nearing the end.

White Sox 5, Rangers 2: Sox’ bench coach Mark Parent was ejected from the games while exchanging lineup cards which, OK, that had to be some conversation. I’m going to pretend he did it to rally the Pale Hose. If so, it worked,with  John Danks tossing six solid innings and the bats tuning up Matt Garza for five runs over seven.

Yankees 3, Rays 2: The Yankees always seem to have trouble down in St. Pete and this series was no exception. They salvaged one here, however, thanks to Curtis Granderson driving in Alfonso Soriano with a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning

Tigers 11, Mets 3: The sweep. Miguel Cabrera went 3 for 4 with a homer and a walk and finished the series 7 for 13 with two homers and five RBIs. He’s hitting .360 now and he’s not even remotely healthy. Just amazing.

Orioles 10, Athletics 3: A good weekend for Baltimore.  J.J. HardyNick Markakis and Nate McLouth homered and the O’s took two of three from Oakland. That moves them to within two games of the Athletics for the second wild card.

Brewers 3, Reds 1: Marco Estrada had his changeup working and he allowed one hit and no runs over seven innings. Caleb Gindl with a two-run homer for the winning margin.

Indians 3, Twins 1: Four errors for the Tribe and a load of base running mistakes but the Twins couldn’t really capitalize. Then Drew Stubbs hit a tiebreaking, two-out homer in the eighth.

Angels 7, Mariners 1: The M’s scored two runs in the entire three-game series. Not too damn inspiring for the folks in Seattle. Jered Weaver stymied them here yesterday, allowing one run on three hits in eight innings while striking out eight.

Padres 3, Cubs 2 : It was 0-0 until the 13th when both teams scored two and then the Pads finally won it on with an RBI single in the 15th. Those two runs a piece in the 13th were the product of some odd plays — wild pitches and baserunners being plunked on the head with thrown balls — all of which added up to five hours and thirteen minutes of weird baseball.

Red Sox 8, Dodgers 1: Jake Peavy was fantastic, tossing a complete game on three hits. Mike Napoli drove in three. The Dodgers dropped their first series since mid-June.

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.