09/11/06 9:17 PM ET
Notes: Huber revels in whirlwind stint
Righty has experienced plenty of firsts since joining Seattle
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Since he was selected from Triple-A Tacoma's roster on Aug. 29, Huber, a right-handed reliever, has won his first Major League game, lost his first Major League game and has learned that no matter what level he's pitching at, he has to be true to himself.
And true to his stuff.
"It's gone great," Huber said. "I started my career with a strikeout and got my first win in Detroit. I couldn't be happier."
Huber allowed his first runs in his fifth appearance of the season on Sunday, when he was tagged for two runs in one inning in taking the loss in a 4-2 setback against Texas.
That loss hasn't taken the shine off Huber's whirlwind stint with the Mariners.
He notched his first strikeout in his first appearance on Aug. 30 against the Angels, and then picked up his first career victory by tossing a scoreless inning of relief against the Tigers last Wednesday.
And because the Mariners are down three relievers -- Julio Mateo, Rafael Soriano and Mark Lowe are out with injuries -- Huber has found himself pitching at critical points in games.
"Grover [manager Mike Hargrove] has put me in during some important situations, in some tight ballgames. ... I'm thrilled about it," Huber said. "I just want to keep it going."
Huber is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA, six strikeouts and three walks over 3 2/3 innings in his five appearances.
Despite his inexperience at the Major League level, Huber said he hasn't changed the way he approaches opposing hitters just because they've been here longer than he has.
"My approach with those guys is just to challenge them," Huber said. "I'm not going to nibble or whatever. I'm going to go after them and make them beat me. You have to go with your strengths. That's what I've learned up here, is be who you are."
The Felix plan: As expected, Felix Hernandez will miss his next scheduled start on Friday in Kansas City. He'll also miss his last scheduled start of the season during the team's final homestand at Safeco Field.
Hargrove disclosed the team's intentions on the two starts that the 20-year-old will miss over his next four scheduled starts.
Hargrove was asked if he had made up his mind as to who would start in place of Hernandez.
"Kinda, sorta, yeah," he said. "But we're not ready to announce that yet."
Francisco Cruceta -- who followed Hernandez to the mound in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Rangers -- is the likely candidate.
Hernandez was limited to 105 pitches in Sunday's loss, though he received a no-decision. He allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts.
The Mariners are doing what they can to keep Hernandez's innings at or below 200 this season. So far, the righty has thrown 174 innings.
Snelling sits: With the Blue Jays going with left-handed starter Ted Lilly on Monday, Hargrove opted to give Chris Snelling the day off, as Mike Morse got the starting nod in right field.
But the chances are good that Snelling might have sat anyway, even if there had been a right-handed pitcher on the mound.
Snelling is hitless in his last 16 at-bats with 10 strikeouts, and he hasn't had a hit since Sept. 3 against Tampa Bay.
Snelling was hitting .372 on Sept. 3, but his average heading into Monday's game was .281.
"Chris has been scuffling his last 14-15 at-bats," Hargrove said. "It came down to Morse or Willie playing out there. I decided to give Morse the game today."
Settling in: Since moving into the No. 3 spot in the lineup, Yuniesky Betancourt is hitting .277 with one RBI and no extra-base hits in five games.
No, those aren't necessarily the results the Mariners would normally like out of one of the most important spots in the lineup, though Hargrove has been impressed with the way his shortstop has adapted to his new digs.
"It hasn't really tried to make him a different hitter," Hargrove said. "A lot of times you take a younger hitter who has been successful in a certain part of the lineup and you move him to a more highlighted spot, and they start trying to do things different. He hasn't done that. That's good."
Betancourt, who took a 10-game hitting streak into Monday's game, became Seattle's No. 3 hitter last Tuesday in Detroit.
Milestone hit: Ben Broussard hit his career-best 20th home run of the season in Sunday's loss to the Rangers. He said it was about time he reached 20.
"I've been so close to 20, but I don't normally have that many at-bats," Broussard said. "Hopefully, I'll get hot and hit a few more."
Broussard has hit seven of his 20 home runs in the 37 games he's played with Seattle since joining the team following a July 26 trade with Cleveland.
Broussard's previous career high for home runs was 19, set in Cleveland last season.
Mariners log: Class A Inland Empire -- the Mariners' lone Minor League team involved in the postseason -- took a 2-0 series lead in the California League playoffs on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Lake Elsinore. Andy Baldwin, one of the pitchers the Mariners obtained from Philadelphia in the trade for Jamie Moyer last month, tossed a three-hitter for the victory. ... The Mariners are looking for their first winning season against the Blue Jays since 2002. Seattle entered Monday's game with a 3-3 record against Toronto. ... Adrian Beltre returned Monday after missing three games to be with his wife, Sandra, who gave birth to the couple's second child, a boy, on Friday in Los Angeles. Beltre was in the lineup on Monday, hitting second. ... The Mariners announced Monday that the start time for their Sept. 23 game in Chicago has been moved to 10:25 a.m. PT. The game was previously scheduled to start at 4:05 p.m. PT. It will be televised by FOX.
On deck: The Mariners play the second game of their three-game series against the Blue Jays at 7:05 p.m. PT on Tuesday. Gil Meche (9-8, 4.31 ERA) gets the start for Seattle. The Blue Jays will counter with Shaun Marcum (2-3, 5.22 ERA).
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.