KANSAS CITY -- Jesse Crain didn’t wait long to find one silver lining when his franchise-record scoreless streak ended on Sunday.
Before he set foot in the clubhouse to address reporters after a 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals, Crain headed for the bathroom to trim a beard that started to take on a life of its own.
Crain’s facial hair had recently been compared with Abraham Lincoln and members of the Amish community as it continued to endure alongside the right-hander’s dominant run on the mound. Prior to Sunday, when he allowed three unearned runs in an inning, Crain hadn’t been scored upon since April 12, a stretch of 29 games over 29 innings.
While he never officially attributed the beard to his streak, Crain cleared up any misconceptions when he trimmed it to about 1/15th its previous size.
“It was,” Crain said when asked if the beard was a byproduct of his streak. “It’s gone. More comfortable now.”
Crain admits he might have been in a more comfortable spot had he cleanly fielded a sacrifice bunt by Kansas City’s Elliott Johnson with no outs in the eighth inning. The Royals opened the inning with two singles and Johnson laid down a bunt to Crain’s right. The normally sure-handed reliever -- a former infielder -- raced to the ball, but overran it in an attempt to get the lead runner at third base.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Crain -- who struck out 38 batters over a streak that eclipsed J.J. Putz's 27 innings in 2010 -- showed he’s “semi-human”
“He’s being aggressive,” Ventura said. “It ends up putting you in a tighter spot. But if he ends up making that play, you’re looking better. And if you actually go over and get it and go to first, in hindsight, looking better.”
Crain struck out George Kottaras and Jarrod Dyson to keep the White Sox ahead 6-4 but forced in a run with a walk of Alex Gordon. Alcides Escobar’s grounder to shortstop then skipped off the glove of Alexei Ramirez and the Royals scored twice to go ahead 7-6.
Though he lamented the loss of the streak and the game, Crain won’t take for granted the ability to once again shave.
“I don’t make a bunt play and I could have been out of it and another ball finds away to sneak through,” Crain said. “You’ve got to have a lot of luck to have a streak like that, guys make good plays behind you and sometimes you have to battle through things and sometimes mistakes are made by me, most importantly. I’m just glad I get to shave now.”