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Monday, September 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: Their break over, it’s time for the M’s to get back to winning

Seattle Mariners, including Jean Segura, center, who scored the winning run on a two-run walk-off home run by Mitch Haniger, wait for Haniger at the plate during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels on June 13 in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners, including Jean Segura, center, who scored the winning run on a two-run walk-off home run by Mitch Haniger, wait for Haniger at the plate during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels on June 13 in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Baseball’s all-star break is finally over. Time to get back to the games. And get back to fretting about the Mariners. Read on.

••••••••••

• Where were we? Oh yeah, thinking about the M’s.

Back in the Y2K days, the Mariners were constant threats to make the playoffs. But since the early part of this century, they have only occasionally sniffed the postseason – and haven’t participated since 2001.

So it’s hard to blame a Mariner fan who may still be feeling some trepidation as the final 65 games of the 2018 season begin. They’ve been teased before, most recently just two years ago when the Mariners were in the race until the end.

But being in a race and being in front of a race are two different things.

For much of this season the M’s have been in front of the race for the second wild card. They still are, three games ahead of the Oakland A’s as we begin the stretch run.

But Oakland has been surging. And the M’s limped into the break, losing s couple series and putting two of their starting pitchers, Felix Hernandez and James Paxton, on the disabled list.

The four days off were needed.

But they are over. And the season begins anew at Safeco, where the M’s begin a stretch of 12 home games interrupted only by a quick three-game series in Anaheim. Up first are the White Sox, who have won a half-dozen fewer games than the Mariners have lost.

It’s time to end the four-game losing streak, part of 2-8 stretch before the break. It’s time to use their home-field edge – Seattle is 31-17 at Safeco. And it’s time to take control of the wild-car race – and cut into Houston five-game edge in the West.

• There is no reason to stop playing sports you love as the years go by. For proof, we give you this story from Ryan Collingwood on Jon Heimbigner and his basketball teams. They are getting ready for the Washington State Senior Games.

•••

WSU: As each warm day passes, we get closer to college football returning. Larry Weir talked with Theo Lawson about that yesterday for the latest Press Box pod. … The Cougars have a new swimming coach. His last name is familiar, but it’s not nepotism. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the Seattle Times is previewing Washington’s position groups, starting on the defensive side of the ball. … It’s time to make picks for the conference football races. … It’s also time to look at who has the best linebackers and defensive backs in the North. … Another former USC football player is in trouble with the law – again. … Colorado has picked its football captains. … Arizona is done with its nonconference basketball schedule.

Gonzaga: The Zags’ fundraiser for local cancer research, the Showcase celebrity golf tournament, returns next week in Coeur d’Alene. Jim Meehan lets you in on the guest list. … Around the WCC, BYU is upgrading its nonconference basketball schedule. … The Saint Mary’s group in The Basketball Tournament is enjoy itself. 

Preps: Former Lake City High star Vanessa Shippy is becoming a college assistant coach.

Indians: Spokane began another series, this one at Salem-Keizer. And it began with a victory. … Around the Northwest League, Eugene got back on the winning track. … Everett crushed Boise, 17-2.

Mariners: Robinson Cano is going to play every day. But not always at second base. … If the M’s are to make the postseason, they will need help. … The left-handed starters have all been successful in different ways.

Seahawks: The Times’ look at the Hawks’ roster continues.

Sounders: Seattle has lost a bit of its home-field advantage. It needs to get it back quickly. … Portland is protesting its U.S. Open Cup loss from earlier this week. And the Timbers seem to have a case.

•••        

• As much as I love traveling, it always seems ill-advised to leave the Inland Northwest in the summertime. Honestly, I can’t wait to get back. Until later … 

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