So what would we be saying, writing and spewing if the Twins had managed to get Cliff Lee from Seattle and he'd put together the 2-5 record and 4.50 ERA that are the results of his 10 starts in Texas? Would it be Bill Smith's fault? Gardenhire and Anderson's doing? Having the wrong catcher? Could we find a way to pin it on Nick Punto or Tim Laudner? Would Lee be held responsible for Lee?

The spewing is likely more muted in Texas because the Rangers lead their division by 8 1/2 games and the true test of his value will be what he does for his team-if-the-moment in October.

Why is Lee struggling? I'll let you rank-order how seriously to take these possibilities.

*Could Thursday's performance be Twins payback for his decision to sit out the final game of his 22-3 season in 2008? That's when a Cleveland victory would have meant a division title for the Twins. Instead, he turned the start over to Bryan Bullington, who combined with Juan Rincon to give up five runs that day and force the Game 163 that Jim Thome, then an infidel, won for the White Sox with his home run.

*Maybe he couldn't get fired up for the Twins because he didn't have Carlos Gomez to challenge. Remember the silliness when Lee took offense at Gomez trying to bunt his way on base a couple of years back. I mean, if you're Go-Go facing Lee, what are your chances?

*Is Lee distracted by his dust-up with ESPN talk show host Colin Cowherd, who said that Lee is bummed about being in Texas and has been "mailing it in"? Cowherd cited a source and Lee took offense. It was an attack best left ignored by Lee. But maybe he got distracted by it. If that's the case, my position on the matter is three words: "Well played, Cowherd."

*Maybe Lee's arm is just tired at a time that Texas can live with -- a time that would have been a disaster for the Twins. I'm still not overly excited about seeing the Twins face him 2 or 3 times in October. But when the choices include CC Sabathia, David Price, Jon Lester and Lee, maybe Lee is the least devilish of the four. (Maybe the question is irrelevant and the real issue is which bullpen you'd rather be facing in late-game, high-pressure situations.)

*Maybe Lee's hurting again. Lee has a history of abdominal strains, including the one that contributed to a horrendous 2007. He missed the first part of this season with a similar injury and maybe -- perhaps more than maybe -- he's not at 100 percent right now.

Whatever the case, Thursday was a sweet night for the Twins. The decision to push Francisco Liriano back for a few days worked out well and Delmon Young mitigated his recent funk with a three-run homer. Despite his sub-.200 struggles in recent weeks, Delmon's still batting .381 with a .967 OPS with runners in scoring position for the season.

The Twins tried to give Matt Guerrrier (1.93 ERA in his first 37 games; 6.53 in 22 games since) a chance to protect a four-run lead and his struggles -- grooving a you-could-hit-that-one-too-ball to Vladimir Guerrero -- solidified his current status behind Crain and Rauch in the hierarchy of right-handed set-up men.

Yes, Gardy still has to give Guerrier those chances because it's the only way to see if finds a way to get out of his funk. (See Jesse Crain.)

But no, Guerrier is the Twins pitcher you don't want to see on the mound at the moment with a one- or two-run lead.

*It's Thome's 40th birthday today. RandBall offers this tribute.

*If you're trying to decide when to go to the State Fair, let me suggest next Friday at 11:30 a.m., when I'll be at the Star Tribune booth. Get something interesting from the Food Building (I prefer the Trinidadian "doubles" from the Harry Singh stand) and come hang out. I'll also be on MPR's Midday show at the Fair from noon until 1 on Labor Day. You can call in. But if you're in the audience and ask a question, you'll get something from our bin of amazing prizes.

*SOOZE! and the TwinsCentric guys are hosting a viewing party for Saturday's 3 p.m. game at Howie's Sports Bar in downtown St. Cloud. Here are more details.

*Enjoy the weekend.