Morning Juice: Grand Old Party sends Twins on Grand Old Trip

This and every weekday a.m., as long as the Republicans say it's OK and we don't have to hit the hobo trail, let's rise and shine together with an unconventional look at the state of the major league baseball union. Today's Roll Call starts in Minnesota, where the Twins wave a tearful good-bye to home for a while, while still in great position to make the playoffs — especially if they can survive two weeks without any Homer Hankies. They're 30-9 at home since June 1.

Game of the Day: Twins 3, Athletics 1

A bigger elephant needs the room: Senator McCain (RHP) says these towns ain't big enough for the two of us. So, away the Twins go, on a 14-game, 15-day road trip thanks to the G.O.P. convention — most of which is happening Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul (the other Twin City) and not inside Minneapolis' Metrodome. The Twinkies gave their fans a nice li'l bon voyage, replete with an OK start by Francisco Liriano and another 1-2-3 ninth by the game's top closer, Joe Nathan. Then they all climbed into the toy Twins Escalade pictured above, I imagine.

Not-so-lame-duck candidate: Here's an idea I hate, but was brought up to me in conversation: How about Nathan for Cy Young? He's got a 1.00 ERA and 34 saves. In a pennant race that probably will come down to the final week, possibly Game 162, the Twins can't win the AL Central if he's not as good as he's been. Indians lefty Cliff Lee at 17-2, etc. with a horsebleep team, still seems like the obvious Cy to me — especially when comparing him with a guy who's pitched in 54 innings — but Nathan's people could make an interesting argument.

Why don't they call them 'overpants'?: The Twins won't complain about the length of the road trip — which isn't that much longer than other team's long trips and takes them to a couple of cities (Oakland, Seattle) where bad baseball oozes from the baselines. In fact, the Twinkies take the hand dealt to them with humor. "I don't think anybody's concerned too much about it," Nathan said. "Most of the talk here in the clubhouse was just making sure we had enough underwear." Really?

Joe Nathan: Be sure to pack enough briefs, there, Mauer.

Joe Mauer: I told you, stop lookin' at my underpants, Joe.

Joe Nathan: Sorry. Just sayin'.

Joe Mauer: I'm tellin' Gardy this time.

Joe Nathan: Don't do that, Joe.

Joe Mauer: Creep.

Joe Nathan: Let's be reasonable!

Joe Mauer: Gardy! Nathan 's not respecting boundaries again!

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Feelin' Rundown (Wednesday's other what-have-you):

White Sox 15, Mariners 3: He's not The Kid anymore, but Ken Griffey will have at least one effective game with the White Sox, thanks to this performance — although he appears to stumble on the follow-through of his 609th career homer. Speaking of past-their-prime future-Hall-of-Famers who seem out of place, does anyone remember either of Roberto Alomar's two stints with the White Sox? ... The name "R.A. Dickey" makes me giggle.

Angels 5, Rays 4: Anaheim, again, is the Top Rally Monkey with a record of 77-48. I was watching the game on my computer (actually, it was GameTracker, the Micro League-looking thing), and I didn't like the Garret Anderson/Chad Bradford matchup in the ninth from Our Rays standpoint. The Sub-Mariner is VERY vulnerable to lefties and, sure enough, G.A. got a go-ahead infield hit. You can't win 'em all, but the Bandwagon rolls on! The Rays are a-comin' to Chicago. I wonder if Longoria will make the trip. His wrist continues to heal, as this pic almost shows us.

Orioles 11, Red Sox 6: It doesn't take someone with lots of fancy degrees like Dr. Leo Spaceman to notice that the BoTox have a blind spot in their pitching rotation after Dice Clay, Lester and Beckett. Clay Bucolic sent back to the farm after dropping to 2-9. How can you be 2-9 with the Red Sox? It's a disgrace.

Rangers 9, Tigers 1: Kevin Millwood tosses a complete-game six-hitter, the kind of outing the Rangers desperately needed — in May or June. Of 2007. Nate Robertson, despite his cool glasses, saw no success again. Rangers youngster Travis Metcalf hit a pair of homers, and he also returned two punts for 33 yards, with a long of 25.

D-backs 8, Padres 6: Put on your camo bicyle shorts, because Rob Deer Season is full-on in Arizona. Adam Dunn goes deep again, against fellow nature boy Jake Peavy, helping to make a mockery of what looked like an enticing pitching matchup with Dan Haren.

Rockies 4, Dodgers 3: Dodgers Magic has that quick expiration date. Gotta check 'em closer than you do milk. Only one Rox run was earned because L.A. made four errors. Vin Scully's rolling over in his booth. Is that Jeff Kent up there with him? This NL West pennant race, it's, it's not good.

Giants 6, Marlins 5: Oh, Hanley. Well you came, and you singled 'n' took second, on a stolen base. Oh, Hanley. Well you left the game because of a bruised thumb. There goes any hope of first place. Oh, Hanley.

Indians 8, Royals 5: KC's bullpen did not do such a good job holding a lead for Gil "Guh" Meche, who was headed to his 11th victory before the Tribe rallied against Mssrs. Ramirez y Soria. Royals rookie outfielder Mitch Maier, who also was to debut an album of old-time pop standards later this month, was hit in the face — pretty much summing up the history of the Royals from 1986-to-present — by a Zach Jackson pitch. Maier has three broken bones below his left eye. Jeez, just leave him in Omaha next time! ... Two homers for Kelly Shopvac, who wins the Charlie O'Brien Backup Catcher of the Night Award.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1: The Yanks might be talking in circles. "We understand there's a sense of urgency but I think everyone understands that," Derek Jeter said. "I'm gonna go get the papers, get the papers."

Mets 6, Braves 3: Mike Pelfrey and fellow starters are 7-0 with a 1.83 ERA in their past eight games. The half-full guy says, "That's what you need from your starters down the stretch." The half-empty guy goes, "Darned right, don't let the Mets bullpen anywhere near this game." What does the guy with nothing in his glass say?

Phillies 4, Nationals 0: Nineteen shutouts for the Gnats, even though it seems like 119. Brett Myers with the nine-hitter. Would it be poor taste to reference something else with Brett Myers now? OK, I'll let it go — on bond!

Brewers 5, Astros 2: "I had nothing today," Manny Parra said. "Nothing." And he WON. Makes me remember the time — and I still it have on digital recording somewhere —Jon Garland said, "It was a case of I bleepin' sucked, is what it was." Except he didn't say "bleepin'." Made me almost like Jon Garland for a second. Ryan Braun (DNP — back) again.

Reds 2, Cubs 1: Despite having the shortest power alleys this side of Williamsport (Pa.), Wrigley plays huge — that ballpark is huuuuuge, Tiny Elvis — when the wind blows in from Lake Michigan. Which means even Bronson Arroyo can lower his ERA and beat the Mighty Cub there.

Cardinals 11, Pirates 2: There should be a Li'l Cy Young Award, and it should go to Todd Wellemeyer, who is 11-4 and pitching like his record for the Cardinals. Congratulations, Todd, your certificate of authenticity is in the mail.

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Photo of the Day: Garza double-checks his repertoire

"One is fastball, two is slider, three is... 'Good luck, Matt, I love you — Mom' ?!?"

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Fantasy Freaks

Nathan (Twins) IP, K, Save (34)

Myers (Phils) 9 IP, 9 H, BB, 9 K, Win

Melvin Mora (O's) 1-3, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, SB

Andy Pettitte (Yanks) 7 IP, 5 H, ER, 4 K, Win

K-Rod (Angels) IP, H, Save (48)

Metcalf (Rangers) 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Millwood (Rangers) 9 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 4 K, Win

Arroyo (Reds) 7 IP, 3 H, ER, 5 BB, 4 K, Win

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Fantasy Flakes

Dickey (M's) 2 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, Loss

Clay Buchholz (Sea Dogs) 2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, Loss

N8 Robertson (Tigers) 3 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 HR! Loss

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Words of Mouth

"I think it definitely shows he's strong and capable of throwing about 120 pitches." — Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, on Brett Myers outing.

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