Mark Kotsay started out slow this season, but he’s starting to show why Oakland general manager Billy Beane decided to trade for him in the offseason.
Kotsay looks to stay hot at the plate as the Athletics conclude a three-game series with the AL West-leading Texas Rangers at Network Associates Coliseum.
Kotsay went 3-for-5 with two homers Saturday, helping the A’s to a 6-2 win over the Rangers. The multihomer game was the second of Kotsay’s career and first since Sept. 22, 2002, when he was still with the San Diego Padres.
Kotsay has shown steady improvement at the plate this season, batting .256 in April, .308 in May and .340 in June. He is hitting .370 (30-for-81) this month with 11 multihit games.
“I’m not a power guy,” he said. “I’m just up there trying to go gap to gap. Obviously, I feel like I’m playing good baseball. It’s fun—a fun environment. This is the first time after the All-Star break I’ve been on a team that’s in it.”
Kotsay, who owned a .281 career average coming into the season, is batting a team-best .319. He hit a career-high .298 for the Florida Marlins in 2000.
Kotsay will be looking to generate some offense for starter Rich Harden, who is coming off one of the best starts of his two-year career. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed just two hits in a career-high 8 2-3 scoreless innings of Oakland’s 14-inning, 1-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.
“I was in a pretty good rhythm,” said Harden, who has allowed just two runs and five hits in 16 2-3 innings in two starts since the All-Star break. “I was able to make my pitches. It’s good to fare well against those guys.”
Mark Teixeira went 2-for-3 with a homer Saturday for the Rangers, whose lead in the division fell to 3 1/2 games over the second-place A’s. Texas is 6-3 since the All-Star break.
Eric Chavez also homered for Oakland, which in 5-5 in the second half.