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Sunday, October 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: With the M’s this season, games will never be over until they’re over

Seattle Mariners’ Omar Narvaez, right, and Los Angeles Angels catcher Kevan Smith watch a three-run home run by Narvaez during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners’ Omar Narvaez, right, and Los Angeles Angels catcher Kevan Smith watch a three-run home run by Narvaez during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Did the Mariners win last night? By the strictest definition, by the one that matters today, yes. But in a lot of ways, no. Read on.

••••••••••

• Pull up the box score from last night’s game in Anaheim against the Angels and you will see the M’s won 11-10. Look at the American League West standings and you will see Seattle is percentage points behind the Houston Astros.

All that is fine.

But if you delve a bit deeper, things are a bit murky.

The M’s led 10-2 last night. Felix Hernandez threw six strong innings. All seemed right in their little world.

Then Hernandez started the bottom of the seventh. When it was done, he was in the dugout looking a bit forlorn, the M’s bullpen had brought the charcoal and the lead was burnt down to a single run.

An inning later the Angels had tied the score and Hernandez’s chance for a win had melted away.

Jay Bruce saved the day with a shift-busting, pinch-hit, RBI single in the ninth and Roenis Elias closed the door on the hapless Angels, allowing the M’s faithful to breathe. The six-game losing streak, all at the formerly named Safeco Field, was over.

Look, there is a lot to like about this group of Mariners. The offense, when clicking, can put up a lot of crooked numbers – even with Kyle Seager on the injured list. The new guys (Mallex Smith, Domingo Santana, Edwin Encarnacion, Tim Beckham, Bruce, even Omar Narvaez) bring more pop – and speed in Smith – than the offense had last year. The starting pitching has improved, even if there doesn’t seem to be a true ace.

But the defense is just awful – the M’s are actually taking infield more often before games in an attempt to shore it up – and the bullpen is a series of hit-and-miss guys. Literally. Some days they get hit, some days the same guys miss the bats – you just never know when they jog in which is going to happen. As the season wears on, and the arms wear down, it will be interesting to see if there is improvement or a complete disintegration.

It’s going to be an adventure, that's for sure. A long one. Just like last night’s seventh inning, when the M’s scored three times to take a 10-2 lead, then watched as Hernandez and two relievers allowed seven runs over the course of what seemed to be two hours.

It is what it is going to be. All season, especially against the teams with suspect pitching. So grab a pop, some snacks, a book for the pitching changes and strap in.

We will be here until September.

•••

WSU: Spring practice is finally here. Oh sure, the Cougars have been practicing for a while, but the weather never really shouted “spring.” Winter, maybe. But not spring. Yesterday was different. Sunscreen weather. Shorts weather. Vitamin D weather. Spring football weather. Theo Lawson took in the last workout before Saturday’s spring game and wrote a feature on inside receiver Kassidy Woods. And he interviewed Mike Leach, Brandon Arconado, Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei and Fa’vae Fa’vae. … Jeff Nusser of CougCenter takes an in-depth look at Kyle Smith's plan for WSU basketball. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the conference’s failures with its broadcasting arm have been well-documented. Which means it’s time to fix them. No, it doesn’t. It means it’s time to spin the narrative. … Spring football is about getting better – in more ways than one. … Yes, there is football news. From Colorado, of course. And a lot from Oregon. Oregon State. Washington. UCLA. Utah, where a kicker walked away. … There is basketball news as well, with Arizona’s Sean Miller expecting big news today. … UCLA’s Mick Cronin is filling his staff.

Gonzaga: Las Vegas has been good to Gonzaga over the years. From winning WCC Tournament titles to Zach Collins, the Zags have enjoyed America's gambling mecca. And now another recruit from the city is headed north. Julian Strawther, an athletic wing who will graduate high school in 2020, committed yesterday. Jim Meehan has more in this story. After putting together a highly rated 2019 class, the Bulldogs look to be doing the same with the 2020 group. … The baseball team lost the opener of a three-game series at Santa Clara. … Around the WCC, a BYU signee has asked out of his letter of intent.

Whitworth: Former Pirate basketball coach Cal Riemcke died last month Chuck Stewart has his obituary.

Chiefs: It’s playoff time. Ice time gets longer and longer for the best players – like Ty Smith. Dan Thompson has this story on the extended runs of Smith in advance of tonight’s start of the series with Vancouver. … Mike Boyle, the voice of the Chiefs, joined Larry Weir on the Press Box pod to examine the series.

Preps: The Greater Spokane League honored its academically proficient athletes yesterday, continuing a tradition that has been around for 36 years. Dave Nichols was at the scholar-athlete award luncheon Thursday and has this story. … We have roundups to pass along from tennis, soccer, softball and baseball.

Mariners: The win came at a price. A whole bunch of game stories had to be rewritten. … The M’s have some depth at catcher. … The lost home stand was fine by Dee Gordon. … Gene Warnick has the Out of Right Field summary that is shorter than last night’s seventh inning. Then again, most everything is.

Seahawks: The draft is drawing closer. How have the Hawks done in the John Schneider era? … Speaking of Schneider, he spoke yesterday about a lot of subjects.

•••       

• I decided to take a walk last night during the M’s game – it was warm and I needed the steps. They were up 7-2 and it seemed like a good time. By the time I got back home, they had scored three runs. Yet the lead had shrunk. And a complete inning had not passed. Until later …

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