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Mr. Perfect

Posted at 11:12 AM on June 18, 2005 by David Zingler

Nobody’s perfect. Not even Joe Mauer, despite what Dick Bremer may tell you. Twins reliever Jesse Crain however, is 9-0 in his young big league career and is tinkering with the very fabric of our existence.

“I don’t think about it at all,” the 24-year-old said of his unblemished record. “When I get a chance to go in there, I just treat it like another inning. All the wins I’ve gotten have been in extra innings, so when I go in there I think of it as a regular inning. I don’t think if someone scores, I might get the win or whatever -- I just try to get the guys out.”

Crain, a 2nd round pick in 2002, has had success at every stop as a pro, never posting an ERA higher than 3.12 in the minors. After joining the Twins late last season, the former Houston Cougar went 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in 22 appearances which earned him a spot on the post season roster. So far this season, he’s 6-0 with a 0.61 ERA.

While his microscopic ERA and .162 opponent batting average are a tribute to his dominance, Crain acknowledges that a little luck has helped him pile up the wins. “You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time to get those wins as a reliever,” the right-hander pointed out. “I’ve been fortunate that we’ve scored the times I’ve been in because any of the guys could have had some of those wins. (Matt) Guerrier been up for a win three or four times and hasn’t gotten one yet.”

To get more insight into Crain’s rise to prominence, I turned to my technical expert, Twins bullpen catcher Aron Amundson. “When he first came to spring training (in 2004), he was one of those guys that threw unbelievably hard, but didn’t know where it was going...but he could have been nervous because it was his first big league camp,” Amundson explained. “He had a hard time keeping the ball down in the zone. I know he’s worked really hard on trying to get a good angle on the low strike on the outside pitch to a right-hander. He can hit that spot every time now...he’s definitely fun to watch.”

Despite what the statistics say, not everything has come easy to Crain, “I guess if I had a difficulty right now, I would say striking somebody out,” said the young reliever, who has 11 punch outs in 31 innings. “I haven’t gotten too many strikeouts, but at least I’ve been getting outs.”

Although he was born in Toronto, Crain lived there only a short time as an infant. He grew up in Colorado and was the state’s high school player of the year in 1999. That fact, however, didn’t stop the Canadian media from going gaga over him when the Twins visited Toronto last month.

“The media was all over me (in Toronto), they kept on asking me if I was going to play on the World Cup team next year,” he said. “About every single reporter asked me if I’d play on Team Canada, which is cool, but I am not really from Canada, I was just born there and only lived there a few months.”

It sure is good being Jesse Crain these days, but his charmed life does have one minor downside, “(My teammates) call me ‘the vulture’ once and awhile,” he commented. “Nobody ever says I steal their wins, but they give me a hard time about it.”

June 2005
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