FLAG DAY

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This Tweet got a lot of love after Friday’s White Sox 1-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Yes, interleague play has lost its luster.

Yes, 2005 has sapped the be-all end-all importance of a White Sox game vs. Cubs.

But, still, there is something special about a Sox triumph of the Cubs.

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SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS: SOXNERD STYLE

It’s amazing what one baseball game can produce.

One glorious, thrilling Major League Baseball game.

Tuesday, the White Sox defeated the Cardinals 2-1 in 11 innings in St. Louis.

The headline-grabber was that Chris Sale joined Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers to record eight straight 10-strikeout games.

But in my world, that was just the beginning.

Did you know that …

*Jose Abreu’s second career start in the No. 2 hole gave him as many there as Frank Thomas had in his career and two more than Paul Konerko had in his.

*Sale joined James Baldwin (7-17-99), Scott Eyre (9-3-97), Billy Pierce (9-27-53), Bob Keegan (9-25-53), Virgil Trucks (7-4-53), Tommy Byrne (5-26-53) and Saul Rogovin (9-20-52) as Sox pitchers to hit safely in St. Louis over the last 63-plus seasons.

*Sale became the first White Sox pitcher to strike out 10 AND get a hit in the same game since Tom Bradley, who was 1-for-4 with 10 strikeouts on 9-29-72 at Texas.

*Sale became the first White Sox pitcher to whiff 10+, get a hit and score in a game since 9-17-71 when Bart Johnson K’d 12 and scored twice vs. California.

*The White Sox posted their first extra-inning win in St. Louis since 9-27-53 when they beat the Browns in the final American League game in the city.

*TylerFlowers hit the White Sox first extra-inning home run in St. Louis since 8-1-34 when ZekeBonura went deep vs. the Browns.

Before the game I tweeted “Let’s have some fun tonight.”

Oh, I did … and then some!

YES! A BASES-LOADED TRIPLE!

Bases loaded triples … I LOVE YA!

Thursday’s White Sox winner was a redemptive one of sorts for the @SoxNerd.

Over the years, there are certain stats, events or oddities I obsessively love to log.

These lists are born out of an incredibly specific event that happens in a Sox game which prompts me to ask: Has this ever happened before? When was the last time this happened? How often does this happen?

My goal is to go as far back on the White Sox timeline as possible.

Sitting on my thumb drive I keep on my person at all times (except for those occasions it has been “cleansed” in the wash) are (among others) Sox manifestos on one-out saves, walkoffs, first Sox hit a homer, 1-0 wins and bases-loaded triples.

Thursday, Carlos Sanchez added to the list of bases loaded triples. Ed Farmer tried cut in half my exuberance of a go-ahead hit AND a bases-loaded triple by immediately referring to it as a double but that talk quickly and thankfully dissipated.

The Sox kinda owed me one here.

On June 19, the Sox were poised to give me a @SoxNerd bonanza: A homer-only 1-0 victory.

Not only was that laid out in front of me, there were all kinds of ways that game could go: Most strikeouts in a homer-only 1-0 win, Sox home run leaders in 1-0 wins (that would have been No. 2 for Tyler Flowers), saves in a 1-0 homer-only win and so on and so on.

I COULD TWEET FOR HOURS!

I even had the Tweet ready to go: “That was the 252nd 1-0 win in @whitesox history … 27th HR only 1-0 win in team history.”

I constructed that at the start of the ninth. What could go wrong, right?

Seven batters later, that Tweet was a piece of garbage. David Robertson gave up two runs in the ninth, blowing the save, blowing Chris Sale’s gem and blowing a homer-only 1-0 victory as Texas prevailed 2-1 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Thursday, Sanchez and his .160ish average delivered a bases-loaded triple … in extra innings … in Detroit … as a rookie … batting ninth … as a second baseman!

The laser beam through the Tiger infield and past a sprawling Miguel Cabrera sent me scrambling for my thumb drive and putting me on a Tweeting flurry that referenced Ferris Fain, Carlos Quentin, Lance Johnson, Conor Gillaspie, Marcus Semien, Jose Abreu, Dayan Viciedo, Brent Lillibridge, Magglio Ordonez, Kenny Lofton, Liu Rodriguez, Ray Durham, Joey Cora, Steve Sax and Nellie Fox.

I could breathe again!

WHY I LOVE SLOPPY THURSTON

During my White Sox archaeological excavations, certain players have taken on reverential and referential status.

This is because of a feat or a nickname or a physical attribute or, yes, annoyingly frustrating and sustained incompetence or failure to meet expectations (sorry Royce Clayton and Adam Dunn).

Hollis “Sloppy” Thurston is one of those folks.

In fact, ol’ Sloppy gets a mention at almost every time I watch a Sox game.

Thurston is the only pitcher in White Sox history to strike out the side on nine pitches, aka an “immaculate inning.”

On this date in 1923 at Comiskey Park, the right-hander from Fremont, Neb., retired Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in the 12th inning in order, on strikes on nine pitches.

To paraphrase the famous cartoon “Baseball Bugs:” Beauty McGowan, 1, 2, 3 strikes yer out! Chick Galloway, 1, 2, 3 strikes yer out! Sammy Hale, 1, 2, 3 strikes yer out!

History wasn’t exactly a charm for “Hollie” that day even though he is the only hurler to go 9-for-9 in extras.

The 24-year old screwballer gave up a run in the 13th and took the loss in a 3-2 setback during a stretch in which the Sox would go nearly two months – TWO MONTHS – without winning back-to-back games.

Why the fixation on Sloppy?

There have been two more perfect games in White Sox history than immaculate innings.

There have been two more World Series titles in White Sox history than immaculate innings.

There have been six more walkoff grand slams in White Sox history than immaculate innings.

That’s how rare this is.

The immaculate inning also embodies one of the endearing qualities of baseball: Every player, no matter how obscure, holds some sort of record or distinction.

Sloppy pitched nine mostly non-descript seasons in the bigs from 1923 to 1933. While he was a 20-game winner, Thurston never played in the postseason or never won any major awards.

Sloppy Thurston, who gave up 1,859 hits in 1,542.2 big league innings, will always have his immaculate inning.

The immaculate inning also highlights another aspect of baseball I love: In every game, no matter how mundane, something incredibly special can happen. It could be so unique it may have happened before or never will happen again.

I have been practically begging for another White Sox immaculate inning.

After almost every strikeout, I check the pitch count. If a pitcher is within striking distance of striking distance of the feat, I will bellow out to I don’t care who’s listening: “He’s got a ‘Sloppy’ going.”

My obsession has even reached my co-workers. “Does he have a ‘Sloppy’ going, Dave?” is a question I will hear when strikes start piling up on a batter.

Invariably, when the streak is ruined, I will mutter: “You’re safe, Sloppy. … FOR NOW.”

FOULKE-LORE: RECALLING A GREAT BATTLE

Today is the anniversary one of the great baseball duels I have ever witnessed.

So taken am I with this taffy-pull, I repost this blog updated every chance I get.

This was a clash between the White Sox Keith Foulke — then in his waning days as a setup man — and Seattle’s Alex Rodriguez, who was probably somewhere between “The Natural” and a 1970s era East German female Olympian at this point.

When the pitched battle had finally ended, Foulke delivered what I consider his most memorable moment as a pivotal part of one of the most surprising campaigns in team history.

The showdown also magnified why I love baseball so much. Any game at any time can give you something special.

The date was April 19, 2000 and the White Sox were playing the Seattle Mariners in a sparsely attended, rain-plagued affair on a “getaway” day at “new” Comiskey Park.

Foulke, a right-hander with the deadly change, entered the seventh in his role as the “lead-in” to Bobby Howry.

Rain and threatening skies had emptied the park of most of its 8,425 spectators when Foulke surrendered a double to Stan Javier to start the frame.

With the Sox holding a 4-2 lead, the tying run stepped to the plate in the form of the daunting Rodriguez.

What happened next was a battle of wills that helped shape the surprise season that was 2000. I was lucky enough to have a “bird’s eye” view of this showdown from behind home plate.

The stubborn Foulke and the determined Rodriguez went head-to-head for 12 pitches with neither man refusing to relent. The at bat included nine tension-mounting foul balls with at least five coming in succession.

Foulke finally emerged as the conqueror in this donnybrook when he got “A-Rod” to ground out to Jose Valentin at shortstop.

Javier moved to third on the play and things got hairy again when Foulke walked Edgar Martinez.

Foulke then came through again when he induced long-time Sox killer John Olerud to bounce into a rare and niftly-executed 3-6-1 double play.

When Foulke gloved the final out in that sequence, he delivered a modest fist pump while heading back to the dugout. Foulke knew immediately what he had accomplished.

The Sox added a run in the bottom of the frame and Foulke turned in a 1-2-3 eighth before giving way to closer Bobby Howry. The Mariners went quietly in the ninth and the Sox had their 5-2 win. Sean Lowe, whom Foulke replaced, got the victory while Howry earned the save.

The triumph was an important one as the Sox moved into first place for good in the A.L. Central. The team would be outright holders of the division’s top spot for all but three of the season’s remaining days.

While Foulke was not rewarded statistically for his effort against Rodriguez, I am convinced that the sequence in which Foulke prevailed and that seventh inning was a turning point in the season.

It didn’t take long after that for Manuel to give Foulke the full-time closer’s job.

It could be argued that Foulke was the Most Valuable Player of the Sox 2000 Central Division title team.

In that gratifying season, Foulke went 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA and 34 saves while giving up just 66 hits and striking out 91 in 88 innings.

CLOSING OUT THE WEEKEND — @SOXNERD STYLE

I couldn’t believe it was happening.

After the absolute disaster that was the 2014 White Sox bullpen, I was witnessing what a bonafide closer looks like.

In the end, who knew I’d be putting David Robertson in the same category as buster Billy Koch and the sometimes-effective Octavio Dotel?

Koch? Dotel? What the … ?

Robertson entered Saturday’s game at U.S. Cellular Field and dispatched the Minnesota Twin in order to save a 5-4 win.

The 30-year old free agent pickup from the Yankees was dominant and that may be understating things.

Robertson fanned the side on 15 pitches (11 strikes) and made the Twins look like the team that scored one run in their opening series at Detroit rather than the squad that trampled the Sox on opening day.

Striking out the side … perfect inning … first save with the White Sox … it was time to do some digging.

Using the baseballreference.com Play Index, I discovered Robertson was the third Sox reliever in the save era (1969 when it became an official stat) to notch his first Sox save while fanning the only three batters he faced.

Koch was the first to do it on April 4, 2003 while Dotel accomplished it on July 9, 2008.

Koch flamed out in a hurry and Dotel was nothing more than an effective setup man with the Sox.

Just to prove that he wasn’t headed down the Koch/Dotel highway, Robertson followed up his Saturday outing with a precise 1-2-3 frame on Sunday in a non-save situation.

Robertson’s weekend: 26 pitches, 19 strikes, four strikeouts, one save and a lot of reassurance.

SOX HOME OPENER: SOXNERD STYLE!

A few nuggets as the White Sox head into their 116th home opener on Friday:

THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS: The White Sox carry a club-record seven-game winning streak in home openers into today’s game.

The previous longest home opening win streak as five from 1906 to 1910.

HELLO, APRIL 10TH: Today will be the White Sox sixth home opener on April 10th.

Uh-oh! After winning their first April 10th home starter in 1962, the Sox have lost four straight on this date.

The last April 10th home curtain-raiser came in an 11-4 loss to Detroit in 1987.

BEST ONE EVER? The late Minnie Minoso will be remembered and honored today.

It’s fitting, too, because Minnie had perhaps his most dramatic moment with the White Sox in a Comiskey Park opener.

After a two-year hiatus, Minoso celebrated his return to the White Sox by going 2-for-4 with a grand slam and a walkoff homer in a 10-9 win over the Kansas City Athletics in the 1960 home opener .

SLAM IT: In addition to Minoso, Carlton Fisk (1981) and Joe Crede (2008) are the only White Sox players to hit grand slams in a home opener

GOOD RUN: The White Sox 64-51 overall in home openers. … The Sox are 15-9 in New Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field openers. … The Sox have 12 of their last 13 season home debuts.

NEW CORNER: Among those who have started a Sox home opener at their not-so-natural position of third base are Jose Valentin (2002), Paul Konerko (2000), Ken Williams (1988), Minoso (1954) and Luke Appling (1948).

FROM THE BOOTH: Ed Farmer is the only member of the Sox broadcast team who did not appear in a Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field opener.

Steve Stone made two appearances for the Sox (1973 and 1978) while Darrin Jackson made one (1994). Ken Harrelson was a member of the Senators for the 1967 Comiskey curtain-raiser.

HR LEADERS: Konerko and Frank Thomas are tied for the White Sox all-time lead with four homers in home openers.

Sherm Lollar, Minoso, Carlos May and Tim Raines are next with three.

GO THE DISTANCE: Sox pitchers completed 13 of the first 14 home openers. Since then, Sox hurlers have completed just 24 home openers with the last coming in 1985 when Britt Burns went the distance in an 8-1 in over Boston.

MULTI-MASHERS: Raines (1994), May (1969), Minoso (1960) and Alejandro De Aza (2014) are the only White Sox players with a multi-homer game in a home opener.

COMISKEY THEN COOPERSTOWN: Hall of Famers Tom Seaver, Early Wynn, Ted Lyons, Red Faber and Ed Walsh have all started Comiskey Park Openers for the White Sox

WHAT A DAY FOR MAY! May had one of the White Sox great home opening performances in 1972. May fronted a 15-hit attack by going 4-for-4 with a double, a home run and six RBIs in a 14-0 rout of the Rangers.

HUGE RALLY: The White Sox staged a five-run rally in the ninth to tip St. Louis 5-4 in the 1915 home opener. Shano Collins scored the game-winner on a two-out wild pitch after he tied the game with a triple.

POWERFUL START: Sherm Lollar hit the first of his 124 White Sox home runs in the 1952 Comiskey opener. Lollar’s blast, in his third bat for the Sox, came in a 3-2 loss to the Indians.

HITTING PITCHERS: Wilbur Wood was the last Sox pitcher to bat in a Comiskey Park opener, going 0-for-4 in 1972. Joel Horlen, in 1969, was the last Sox pitcher to hit safely in a home opener. The last pitcher to bat in a Sox home opener was Frank Tanana for Detroit in the 1991 disaster.

WALKOFF OPENERS: Wayne Nordhagen’s ninth-inning bloop double vs. Boston handed the Sox their last walkoff win in a home opener in 1978. Other walkoff home openers came in 1915, 1920, 1930, 1945, 1960, 1962, 1966 and 1971.

White Sox nuggets