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Grip on Sports: Before we begin the weekend, we need to check in with the Mariners, Cougars and the weatherman

Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz hits a two-run double next to Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in Houston. (David J. Phillip / AP)
Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz hits a two-run double next to Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in Houston. (David J. Phillip / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Have a lot on your to-do list today? Me too. First is to check in with Washington State football. Then the Mariners. And maybe a major minute or two. Read on.

••••••••••

• The Cougars held their first scrimmage of camp last night – after it had cooled down a bit – and may have just found out who their starting quarterback will be.

Of course, Mike Leach is too smart a man to make a determination on one scrimmage, but Gardner Minshew seemed to come out of last night’s competition with an arm ahead.

“I thought (Gardner) had the best scrimmage,” Leach told our Theo Lawson. “I think Gardner looked real sharp. Missed some balls down there, but other than that, he drove the group pretty well.”

The key number for Minshew? Zero. Despite throwing 15 passes, he didn’t throw any to the wrong colored jerseys. No turnovers, no extra possessions for the opposition. That is going to be important for WSU this year. OK, it’s always important, but this year it has special significance considering the depth deficit on the defensive side of the ball.

• One of the smartest men in baseball years ago was Baltimore Orioles’ manager Earl Weaver. And one of his favorite sayings was something about momentum in baseball is tomorrow’s starting pitcher.

For the Mariners that has been true lately. With the offense struggling since the beginning of July, the starting pitching has been called upon to keep them in games. Much of the time, especially earlier this week in Arlington, it hasn’t been up to the task.

Last night Mike Leake was. And considering the M’s offense was facing Gerrit Cole, quite possibly the American League’s Cy Young winner, he had to be. 

Leake actually outpitched Cole, the M’s strung some hits together in the eighth inning and won, 5-2.

• Yesterday afternoon had been reserved for golf. A whole afternoon with nothing to do but sit downstairs, revel in the air conditioning and watch the PGA.

Darn you Mother Nature.

Thunderstorms – thunderstorms in St. Louis in August? What a surprise – rolled in and the tournament was halted just as I was getting interested.

It also seemed to put a little crimp in Tiger Woods’ run up the leaderboard. He wasn’t as sharp this morning when the action resumed. But he’s four-under and will be in the mix this weekend, what with only 18 golfers ahead of him.

Though that 17 includes two-time U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, and major winners Justin Thomas, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Francesco Molinari and Jason Day. 

• Spokane’s Alex Prugh is leading the Web.com tour event in Hayward, Calif., this week, shooting a 60 yesterday and posting a 16-under score after two rounds.

Of course he wasn’t the top story. That would be the Warriors’ Stephen Curry shooting an 86 on Friday and missing the cut. 

•••

WSU: Theo has five reactions from last night’s scrimmage in Martin Stadium. He also has videos of the reactions afterward from Leach, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, Brandon Arconado, Minshew and Will Rodgers III. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there probably won’t be a better secondary in the conference better than the one at Washington. Which helps the receivers improve. … It’s scrimmage time, including at Oregon State. … Oregon wants to improve on special teams. … Don’t doubt Stanford’s defensive line. … It looks as if Ross Bowers will be back as California’s starting quarterback. … Colorado’s best receiver is connected. … Utah has to make a decision about its freshman quarterback and a transfer. … USC’s revamped defense stood tall yesterday. … Chip Kelly is asking the receivers at UCLA to play at a different speed. … It’s also scrimmage day at Arizona State. … Arizona’s run defense will be bolstered even more when a starting safety returns.

EWU: The lone FCS players on the Polynesian College Football Player Of The Year watch list plays at Eastern. That would be nose tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli. Ryan Collingwood has more on Tiuli. … Ryan also has a story on all the injured Eagles that are looking forward to returning to the field this season, including Tiuli. … Eastern and Idaho have three players each on Phil Steele’s preseason All-Big Sky team. Ryan has that story as well. … Around the conference, a highly regarded Sacramento State safety has moved around a lot. … Montana has some questions about its offensive line. … Southern Utah’s Demario Warren has garnered national attention. … Montana State’s quarterback is on his third opportunity. … Idaho State’s Mitch Gueller is a preseason All-American.

Whitworth: The Pirates begin preseason camp tomorrow and they have a lot of questions to answer. Jim Allen catches us up on five of them.

Indians: The offense lit it up in Boise last night, and the Indians won 14-7. … Around the Northwest League, too bad Robinson Cano came to Everett after the all-star game. He might have been a starter. His grand slam lifted the AquaSox past Eugene, 5-2.

Preps: Coeur d’Alene’s Little League all-star team will play for the West Region title today against Montana after defeating Oregon yesterday. … A couple local wrestling coaches earned national honors

Mariners: Other than the much-need win last night – Seattle picked up a game on Oakland in the wild-card chase – the other big story was Felix Hernandez and how he will adapt to being in the bullpen. The best pitchers see adversity as an opportunity – Bases loaded, no one out? Get out of it unscathed and it’s a great way to kill the opposition’s momentum – which is what Hernandez needs to do.

Seahawks: The play of the backup quarterbacks against the Colts was such that the Hawks are bringing in another QB for an audition. … What will the Seahawks’ roster look like? Will Shaquem Griffin be on it?

Sounders: Seattle has a new left back. He’s expected to play tomorrow against Dallas.

•••        

• There is a chance I won’t be here tomorrow. I have some plans to surprise Kim on our wedding anniversary today. (She thinks we are doing one thing, but we are actually doing something else. Don’t worry, she doesn’t read what I write. She has to listen to my opinions all the time, so she probably figures why read them too?) If everything works out, I’ll be here. If it all falls apart, I may be stranded somewhere in the wilderness. You would think someone with 39 years of matrimonial experience wouldn’t take chances like this, but you would be wrong. Hopefully, this column will be back tomorrow but you never know … 


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