"Everyone knows how much I admire Tony Gwynn," said Jay. "It's great to be in the same sentence as him. That's really cool."
When he was traded by the Cardinals to San Diego during the offseason, Jay said one of the more appealing parts of joining the Padres was being able to play in Gwynn's city.
"That was something that was pretty cool," Jay said. "Obviously I wore 19 before. It's retired for a great reason here. I know his history here and what he meant to the organization as a player. But even more -- I've been here just asking guys that have been around -- just how much of an impact he had on the community here."
Jay has been red-hot of late, as evidenced by the fact that he's being mentioned in the same breath as Gwynn. He recorded five hits Thursday and four hits Wednesday -- making him one of just four Padres in history with consecutive four-hit games. Yes, Gwynn is also one of those four Friars. The others are Reggie Sanders and Cameron Maybin.
The recent hot streak has raised Jay's average above .300 entering play Friday -- and he's made those hits count, too. His .472 average with runners in scoring position is the second highest mark in the Majors, behind only Stephen Piscotty. (Perhaps ironically, Piscotty's emergence in the Cardinals outfield made Jay a tradeable piece during the offseason.)
So what's been the difference for Jay at the plate? In his eyes, not a whole lot.
"I'm just working hard to be consistent," said Jay, who has doubled in six of his last seven contests and now leads the National League in two-baggers. "I believe in myself as a hitter."
So, too, does manager Andy Green -- specifically against left-handed pitching. Jay, a lefty hitter, has posted some serious reverse splits against southpaws this season:
Jay vs. lefties: .377/.441/.459 Jay vs. righties: .270/.312/.399
The last lefty Padres hitter to finish a season with a batting average above .350 against left-handers? You guessed it: Gwynn did so five times.
Jay's consistency against lefties has allowed for Green to pencil his name atop the lineup on a nightly basis -- no matter who's on the hill for the opponent. Jay has been atop the order in all 49 of his starts.
"The great thing about him is when he's battling and doesn't feel good, he still manages to get a hit, still manages to do something positive to help the team," said Green. "And then, when he hits a hot streak like this, you can tell. The ball's really hopping off his bat right now. He's hitting balls hard all over the ballpark, staying inside. I think he's as comfortable against a left-handed pitcher as you'll see in a game."