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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

A Grip on Sports: Mike Leake nearly turned in a perfect performance in the midst of the Mariners’ less-than-perfect season

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Mike Leake, center, is greeted by teammates after he threw a one-hitter against the Los Angeles Angels in a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2019, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Mike Leake, center, is greeted by teammates after he threw a one-hitter against the Los Angeles Angels in a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2019, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Perfection is hard to come by. Almost impossible, as Mike Leake found out to open the ninth inning Friday night.

•••••••

• The Mariners’ starting pitcher was awful in his last start against the Angels. Heck, the first inning in that one was filled with enough runs to last a month, at least for Seattle’s offense. So little was expected from Leake when he took the mound at T-Mobile last night.

And that’s all the Angels got. Well, little would be an exaggeration. For the first eight innings, nothing was the correct term. No hits. No runs. No baserunners.

That’s perfection in baseball terms.

But Leake, who is expecting to be traded this week as the M’s retool for next season and beyond, wasn’t able to finish the deal and become the 24th pitcher to throw a perfect game.

Big deal. Honestly. It would have been a big deal if he had, joining Felix Hernandez – remember him – as the only M’s pitcher to etch his name into the record books through perfection. But it’s also not a big deal he didn’t do it. Not reaching something that is nearly impossible to do is never a failure. The celebration should be of how well Leake threw, especially coming on the heels of one of his worst starts ever.

He proved again he is not only a capable major league starter, a rare commodity these days, but is also capable of exceptional performances, something every contender needs in August and September.

That’s Leake’s biggest value to Seattle right now. The better he is (and he’s been good this season), the more the M’s should gather in return the next few days. If more than one team wants him, Jerry Dipoto should be able to play them off each other and bring in more help for 2020 and beyond.

In baseball parlance, we are in the eighth inning of the season as it relates to trades and we have just one question: Can Dipoto finish the deal with a perfect ninth?

•••

WSU: Center Fred Mauigoa is on the Rimington Award watch list again. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Utah really needs a win its opener. But so does opponent BYU. … Colorado has a strong receiving corps.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are in the hunt for one of the nation’s best high school centers. Jim Meehan has all the information about their recruitment of Walker Kessler. … Nigel Williams-Goss and the Utah Jazz made it official yesterday.

EWU: Spokane police are looking for information concerning a SUV that may have been part of the shooting of two Eastern football players.

Indians: The road beckons for the Northwest League’s final first-half series, though Spokane will leave having suffered a 7-2 loss to Vancouver. No matter. As Dave Nichols informs us in his game story, the Indians will take a three-game lead into the three-game series at Everett, the closest pursuer. … Babe Ruth’s granddaughter threw out the first pitch last night. Dan Thompson has that story and Tyler Tjomsland has a photo gallery from that event and the game. … Larry Weir talked with Dave about the Indians, the NWL race and the rest of the season in the latest Press Box pod. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Everett lost at Tri-City and Eugene picked up a win at home.

Chiefs: Spokane signed a Russian defenseman to a contract.

Preps: A Walla Walla shooting group recently won a national championship competition in Ohio. Chuck Stewart has that and more in his Youth Sports Notebook.

Golf: Corey Prugh took the lead after the first round of the Rosauers Open yesterday.

Mariners: Leake’s outing in a 10-0 win dominates the day-of-game coverage, and well it should. But the game itself was still overwhelmed by what’s happening across the country. Edgar Martinez will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. … The bullpen should have reinforcements soon. … Gene Warnick has an Out of Right Field recap of the M’s best-pitched game of the season.

Seahawks: Another list of Hawks, as we near their best players.

Sounders: Everyone on a soccer team is expected to be a scoring threat these days.

•••       

• The British Open is back on TV this morning and playing in the background. The leaders do not tee off for a while. I’m rooting for one American to win. You’ll have to guess which one. Until later …

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