And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 3, Marlins 1: Amazin.’ Daniel Murphy hit a go-ahead/come-from-behind three run bomb and Mets improve to 15-5. Murphy also made a nifty play in the field the next half-inning. Adrenaline is a hell of a thing. The Mets have a 4.5 game lead in the East and are eight games up everyone’s favorites, the Nationals. Which, wow.

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5: MookieMania is running wild, brother. Betts with the walkoff RBI single through a drawn-in infield. Betts said he “got a decent pitch to hit.” He’s only 22 but his cliche game is that of a seasoned veteran.

Royals 6, Indians 2: Mike Moustakas got four hits and Alex Gordon drove in two, which ain’t too bad against the reigning Cy Young Award winner. Bonus from this game came from the Royals’ booth, where I am told Fox Sports Kansas City’s Rex Hudler was talking about my annual Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers rankings. Hudler was quoted by viewers as saying “Did you say it was a guy that made that list up?” Yes, Rex, it was. And have a nice, heteronormative day yourself.

Braves 8, Nationals 4: The Braves beat up the Nats in a game that featured some chippiness following a hard Andrelton Simmons’ slide into third base which led to a cut on Yunel Escobar’s hand. There were warnings and then Simmons was hit by a pitch. And even though he wasn’t in the game Jonny Gomes got ejected for running out of the dugout. Which, hey, he has a personal brand to maintain. The key thing here, though, is the Nats are now 7-13 and sit eight games back with only one team in all of baseball — the Brewers — featuring a worse record than them. Which is quite a thing.

Oh, and another broadcast datapoint: the Braves booth which has, in the past, engaged in all kinds of silly and unwarranted hatred and hostility with respect to Bryce Harper here said, at one point, “He’s a good player. Easy not to like him, but a good player.” I suppose that’s progress. Maybe in another year or two they’ll acknowledge that no one gives a crap if they like him.

Yankees 4, Rays 1: Brian McCann homered, Adam Warren pitched effectively and the Yankees’ winning combination so far — good defense, just enough hitting and a shutdown bullpen — kept things chugging along. A-Rod did not tie Willie Mays in this game as he went hitless. But someone asked Brian McCann about it afterward and McCann said A-Rod’s place on the all-time home run list is “an amazing accomplishment.” I presume the Yankees will fine him now given his failure to follow team policy which prohibits the stating of the bleedin’ obvious.

Reds 9, Brewers 6: Jay Bruce homered and drove in three. Jason Marquis allowed two runs and seven hits in eight innings. He also hit an RBI single, probably to spite me.

Mariners 3, Rangers 1: Taijuan Walker allowed one unearned run in seven innings in his second solid start following a couple of disasters to open up the season. Both of these teams had to be exhausted, as they didn’t get into Texas until the wee hours of the morning due to severe storms which diverted their flights. Then this one started an hour late due to a rain delay. Hope their cell phones are on Do Not Disturb this morning.

Cubs 4, Pirates 0: Kris Bryant was 2-for-4 and drove in two. Jason Hammel tossed eight shutout innings. The Cubs won their third straight and snapped the Pirates’ five-game winning streak. Bryant has driven in nine in ten games. Scary moment here, though, as a fan was taken away in an ambulance after being hit by a flying bat during an Addison Russell plate appearance.

Tigers 5, Twins 4: Yoenis Cespedes had a homer, a double and three RBI. Jose Iglesias hit a homer and a triple, notching three hits in all. He’s hitting .397. All of us wanted to talk about how the Tigers would do after losing Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello in the offseason, but between those two it’s as if the Tigers added two plus bats to an already potent lineup.

Phillies 4, Cardinals 1: Cole Hamels doesn’t need a ton of run support, so when he even gets a little bit here that’s enough. As it was he struck out nine in seven innings and allowed only one run. Don’t tell anyone, but the Phillies have won three of four and are ahead of the Nats in the standings.

Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 4: Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer in the first. Tyler Matzek limited the Diamondbacks to two runs on five hits in five innings. He had to leave early with a leg cramp, though, and the bullpen just barely held on. The Rockies have won five in a row against Arizona.

Dodgers 8, Giants 3: Joc Pederson and Justin Turner went yard. Pederson also doubled in a run and made a sweet play in the field, ranging back to the wall, catching it with his back to the field and then turned around and doubled off Nori Aoki, who had broke from first on the play. Pederson is hitting .296/.458/.556 on the year and doing that kind of crap in the field. Mercy.

Astros 9, Padres 4: Colby Rasmus homered and drove in three as the Astros won their fourth in a row. Jed Lowrie and Jason Castro also homered. The book on Astros hitters this year was that they’d lead the AL in strikeouts and be near the top of the league in homers. At the moment they lead the AL in strikeouts and are fourth in homers, two off the league lead. So, yep.

White Sox vs. Orioles: Postponed: Unrest in Baltimore continues, which may move this series out of the city and down to Washington or someplace else. Baseball, however, seems very, very unimportant compared to what’s happening there. But this is important. You should probably read this.

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.