SAN DIEGO -- When Jon Jay is feeling good at the plate -- and he's felt good at the plate for the better part of a month now -- he peppers outfield gaps, piling up one extra-base hit after another.Evidently, Jay doesn't like letting his opponents get in on the
SAN DIEGO -- When Jon Jay is feeling good at the plate -- and he's felt good at the plate for the better part of a month now -- he peppers outfield gaps, piling up one extra-base hit after another.
Evidently, Jay doesn't like letting his opponents get in on the fun either.
During the Padres' 5-2 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday night, Jay recorded a pair of two-baggers, increasing his season total to 22, which ties him with Pittsburgh's Gregory Polanco for the National League lead. He also showed off some serious range, robbing Marcell Ozuna and Chris Johnson of extra bases with a pair of fantastic catches in center field.
On the Ozuna catch, specifically, Jay ranged far to his right and made a sliding grab on the warning track, without breaking stride in left-center. It was a highlight-reel play you'd expect from a Petco Park lifer -- even though Jay has only played his home games here for 2 1/2 months.
"It's big," Jay said of San Diego's center field dimensions. "I enjoy that. There's a lot of ground to cover, but I think it's a good challenge."
No one had a better view of Jay's grab against Ozuna than left fielder Melvin Upton Jr. He praised Jay for his cerebral approach to the position.
"He's a very smart outfielder, man," Upton said. "He does his research, he's in tune with what our pitchers are doing, he's in tune with the hitters, and it's been very enjoyable playing next to him."
Offensively, Jay has been one of San Diego's two or three biggest contributors this season. Among qualified Padres, he leads the team in both batting average (.286), on-base percentage (.331) and, of course, doubles.
As for the two-baggers, Jay says they typically come in bunches when he's locked in.
"I'm a gap-to-gap hitter," Jay said. "And doubles are always good."
This month, Jay is batting .328/.340/.463 -- and he's hitting the ball with authority. His average exit velocity of 90 mph in June trails only Wil Myers, among Padres hitters.
Obviously, manager Andy Green has no qualms with penciling a red-hot bat like that into the top spot of his lineup every day. (Jay has batted leadoff in all 59 of his starts.)
But he's been even more impressed watching Jay's plate approach when he isn't raking. Jay has managed to keep himself out of any prolonged slumps this year, and has been easily the Padres' most consistent offensive performer.
"He finds a way," Green said. "And he's found a way this year very consistently. He's had good at-bats for us all the time. If he's had a few bad ones, he's able to flush them pretty quick, come back the next day. It doesn't carry over, in that sense. [He's] incredibly professional."
AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.