Mark Kotsay made his MLB debut in 1997. Since then, he's made 6,798 plate appearances. You don't make that many trips to the plate without learning a thing or two.
It was that experience that helped the Padres beat the Nationals 2-1 on Thursday night at PETCO Park. Kotsay was called upon to pinch-hit in the 8th inning of a game Washington was leading 1-0. On the mound was Nationals All-Star Tyler Clippard. During Kotsay's 16-year big league career, he's learned pitchers have patterns.
So he flashed back to Tuesday night. Kotsay pinch-hit late in a game the Padres trailed by a run. The man he faced was Clippard. Mark saw 12 pitches before popping out on an off-speed pitch, but early in the at-bat he missed a couple of fastballs he felt were hittable.
On Thursday, Kotsay was looking for the gas that he didn't handle before. He got it, and lined a laser into the right-center field gap to bring home Orlando Hudson and Cameron Maybin with the only runs the Padres scored.
Luckily they were the only runs the Padres needed. Starting pitcher Edinson Volquez allowed just 1 run in 7 innings. Andrew Cashner and Huston Street each tossed a scoreless inning to secure the win.
San Diego starts a 3-game series in San Francisco against the Giants on Friday night.