Kemp starting to sizzle in second half
Outfielder homers, singles in Padres' fifth straight victory
SAN DIEGO -- One of the major selling points for the Padres in their pursuit of Matt Kemp from the Dodgers last December was the stunning second-half performance he had for the team in 2014.
After scuffling in the first half, coming around slowly from left ankle surgery, Kemp caught fire during the second half, hitting .309/.365/.606 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs to go along with 17 doubles.
Could the Padres be the beneficiaries of another big second half by Kemp, who hit a two-run home run Monday to help San Diego top the Giants, 4-2, at Petco Park?
San Diego interim manager Pat Murphy, on the job since June 16, certainly hopes so and likes what he's seen of late from Kemp, who has four extra-base hits -- two doubles and two home runs -- in the three games, all victories, in the second half.
"I heard when I came in that he wasn't swinging it as well as he would have liked to," Murphy said. "... Now he's the best player on the field."
Kemp had two hits Monday and is 5-for-10 in the second half, helping the Padres extend their season-high winning streak to five games.
On Sunday, Kemp had two doubles before the rain washed away his statistics and the game, as the Padres and Rockies were postponed.
"That's just life right there. I don't think that's ever happened to me. You've got to go to the next day and try to do something else," Kemp said.
Kemp did that in the third inning Monday, driving a pitch from Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson out beyond the fence in right-center. For Kemp, it was career RBIs Nos. 699 and 700.
The home run was tracked by Statcast™ at 409 feet.
"That's probably one of my better swings this year. It's a tough place to hit a home run, right-center," Kemp said.
Said Padres pitcher Ian Kennedy, who got the win Monday: "Grown-man territory in right-center."
Kemp raised his batting average to .257 with his two hits against the Giants and is now hitting .320 in July. He feels like there are better days ahead for him and his teammates.
"It feels good. It's been awhile since I've seen the ball good and had a consistent week or two," Kemp said.
"Hopefully we can keep playing like this. At the end of the day if we keep playing like this, we'll be where we need to be."