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Morning Juice: Millwood throws pitch, triggers $12-million option

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This and almost every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts at Oakland's Coliseum, where the Rangers got to the business of keeping alive for the playoffs and right-hander Kevin Millwood(notes) got himself paid.

Game of the Day: Rangers 10, Athletics 3

180 degrees of Scott Boras: A fun season for the Rangers probably won't end with the reward of a playoff berth (it's too bad they don't play in the challenged AL Central). But owner Tom Hicks, president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels will at least head into the off-season knowing they'll have an aging Kevin Millwood on the payroll in 2010. Simply by throwing a pitch Monday night, Millwood activated a vesting option in his contract for $12 million.

Just like Chuck Yeager: As the MLB Trade Rumors humorously pointed out, after the Rangers completed half of a double play in the fifth inning, the 35-year-old Millwood broke the 180-innings barrier (boom!), activating the 2010 option on the free-agent contract that mad scientist/agent Scott Boras created before the 2006 season.

From MLB.com:

"I knew what I had to get to," Millwood said. "But I wanted to get deep in the game and win the ballgame. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself."

Money does take care of things, they say.

Conspiracy theories: Because he has faded in the second half and hadn't pitched since Sept. 13, there had been talk of the Rangers shutting down Millwood and stealing his gold! You couldn't blame them in a way, given Hicks' reported financial problems. Millwood, who allowed an unearned run and three hits over seven innings, says he was just workin' on some stuff with pitching coach Mike Maddux.

"Locating my fastball, that's the biggest thing," Millwood said. "When I wanted to throw it away, I threw it away, when I wanted to go in, I went in. I was able to keep the ball down. When I'm able to locate my fastball, I'm able to pitch pretty well."

Also, thanks to the financial backing of Bud Selig and who knows who else, the Strangers did the right thing and let the guy pitch.

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Feelin' Rundown (the options on these games will never vest):

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Angels 5, Yankees 2: Foiled again at the playoff gates, the Yankees try again today to clinch. It's hard out here for a Yankee.

Giants 5, D-backs 4: Say what you will about Barry Zito(notes) and his $126-million contract. At least he's not up for murder.

Twins 7, White Sox 0: Nick Blackburn's(notes) record is 11-11 — make a wish.

Cardinals 7, Astros 3: The Cards hammer Magic Wandy Rodriguez(notes), who had a 1.58 ERA at home. Cards Magic Number: 3.

Royals 12, Red Sox 9: Boy, take away most of May, June, July, August and the first week of September and KC's a runaway freight train in the AL Central.

Braves 11, Mets 3: Four-out start by Pat Misch(notes), four-inning save Kenshin Kawakami(notes). I love those (the long-form saves).

Blue Jays 9, Orioles 2: Interest in the Jays might be waning: They've drawn fewer than 12,000 at SkyRogers for three straight games. I know the Leafs are in camp and the Argonauts are hitting the stretch run of the CFL season, but this is not the tradition for which Fred McGriff toiled.

Cubs 10, Brewers 2: Tyler Colvin(notes) wasn't in a Cubs uniform one at-bat before collecting his first RBI. I swear to God, it took Milton Bradley(notes) (the guy Colvin just replaced) a month before he drove in a run. ... I just looked it up; Bradley hit a home run in his fourth game with the Cubs, but didn't get his second RBI until his 14th game.

Padres 11, Pirates 6 (11 inn.): Sixteen pitchers used in this game. ... Did you know the Padres own the NL's third-best record (31-20) since July 28?

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