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Saturday, September 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Seahawks sharpen up at just the right time while M’s take another dull defeat

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Opposites attract, right? Yin and yang. Kim and Kanye. And, in the case of Seattle’s two major professional sports teams last night, sharp and dull. Read on.

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• The Seahawks looked sharp in their 27-17 win over the visiting Dallas Cowboys, from the starting group to the guys who cleaned up the mess in the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson and the first-team offense actually found the endzone – twice. Kam Chancellor ran through Ezekiel Elliott – once. And though Elliott returned the favor later, the Cowboys, as a whole, never did. Maybe it was because Tony Romo was held out after Cliff Avril drilled him in his surgically repaired back. Or maybe it was because, in the third preseason game, the Hawks’ first team decided it didn’t want to be second to anyone anymore. Who knows. But it bodes well. As does seeing Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham going through pregame warmups. Neither played, but they don’t seem all that far away, which is a good sign. So is the play of backup quarterback Trevone Boykin, who may be a rookie but looked once again like he’ll be a great fit as Wilson’s backup. He reminds me of someone. Oh, yeah. Wilson about four years ago. That doesn’t mean he will morph into the second coming of the Seahawk star, but it does seem appropriate in that he can fill a stand-in role if, god forbid, Wilson has to miss time. Yes, the Hawks made mistakes last night, many of them on the defensive side. And yes, it wasn’t perfection. But it was good. Sharp, actually.

• On the dull end Thursday night sits the Mariner bullpen. The group has been good a majority of the season. In fact, you could say the bullpen has been the difference between winning and losing for Seattle. When it’s going well, the wins come. But the starting staff has been bailed together with twine, and breaks down way too often. Because of that, the pen has been called upon way too often. It’s done its job most of the time. Last night it didn’t. Two losses due to an offensive drought, a third consecutive one placed on the pen’s shoulders. That’s not good. The thing about the wild-card race is it’s a lot like the old days of baseball. Division chases usually involve one or two other teams. But, like the pennant races of yore when each league had just 10 teams, four, five or six clubs might be involved in the wild-card hunt. Lose a few games and it’s not the distance behind the leaders you have to worry about, it’s the number of teams you fall behind. Climbing over one team is a certain type of challenge. Trying to climb over three or four brings in too many variables out of your control. The M’s need to play a bit sharper tonight or they are in danger of being cut out of the wild-card race.

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• WSU: This is your friendly reminder: A Pac-12 school (California) plays a college football game tonight (vs. Hawaii in Sydney, Australia). Which means we are getting into the scripted days of practice. At WSU, that means Thursday Night Football on, well, Thursday night. Jacob Thorpe has a blog post and story on which Cougar player stood out (a hint: he’s tall). ... Jacob also has his position preview, this last one on the special teams, and a video interview with Eric Mele, who is in charge of those specialists. ... In an interview after practice yesterday, Mike Leach said there is more to the Shalom Luani incident than has been reported. So Jacob reported what Leach said. ... Jon Wilner thinks the Cougar season is going to end on a downward slide. He also predicts every Washington game. ... Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Utah has made a living the past few years with well-placed walk-ons. ... Oregon State is ready to battle people. ... Is Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre on the hot seat? ... The Huskies have a linebacker who must step up. ... Brady Hoke isn’t too happy with the Oregon defense. ... Cal (and its new quarterback) has put in the time and is ready for the season to begin. ... Arizona State will rely on at least one freshman wide receiver. ... A USC cornerback thinks a USC cornerback can win the Heisman. ... Arizona’s top running back cuts quickly and thinks just as fast. ... When UCLA opens at Texas A&M, it will be a homecoming for some players. ... The Washington State women’s soccer team upset No. 13-ranked Santa Clara 1-0 last night in Pullman.

• EWU: The Eagles’ defensive line hasn’t played up to expectations the last two seasons. As Jim Allen writes in today’s position preview, that needs to change this year.

• Indians: Everyone in the Northwest League had the day off yesterday which means most teams were traveling. Spokane headed home where Clayton Middleton and the Indians will hope to turn the second-half around. Josh Horton has the story. ... Everett has been red-hot this half of the season.

• Chiefs: Training camp has opened for Spokane, but it opened without a veteran goalie that was expected to contribute. Tom Clouse has the story concerning Tyson Verhelst’s decision to quit playing. ... Everett opened training camp yesterday.

• Preps: Schools starts a bit earlier in Idaho. So does fall sports. Greg Lee has a preview of the fall soccer season and a look at this weekend’s football games that kick off the year around here.

• Mariners: The M’s have lost four of their last five games and you can’t blame the bullpen for all of it. Just like last night’s 7-6 loss in Chicago. A Ketel Marte seventh-inning error really helped the White Sox overcome a three-run deficit. ... Kyle Seager is in a boot off and on, so the M’s called up Mike Freeman as insurance.

• Seahawks: There is a lot to be learned from the third preseason game. Cuts come after it, so everyone is playing for a job. Which might explain how well certain people played last night.

• Sounders: The rivalry in the Rockies won’t be a real rivalry until Colorado wins at Real Salt Lake. The Rapids have another chance tonight.

•••

• High school and college football tonight. I don’t care what is written on the calendar, summer is unofficially over. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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