The Phillies play over the last four games was far from perfect. We saw the bullpen falter and the bats fail to really light it up, but as Jayson Werth says below, the hitting was certainly timely, and the outcome of the final four games before the All-Star break ended with four more notches in the win column.
Charlie and the boys seem pretty juiced up about the four game sweep heading into a nice little break for the majority of the players. They're not happy to be trailing the Braves and Mets in the division, but the sweep of the Reds appears to have given them a confidence boost to the point where they feel poised to get hot in the second half.
The team is feeling pretty good, but how about the fan base? It was less than a week ago when these same guys were talking about a lack of "swagger" after tough defeats. Three straight walkoff victories at home should certainly add a little hop to their step, but will it solve some of the bigger, long term issues? The starting pitching, for the most part, has been pretty good as of late, but I'm pretty sure the percentage of people who are confident in the Phillies bullpen, especially the closer, is a very low number. Swagger is not going to turn Danys Baez into a reliable reliever. Swagger is not going to turn back the clock on Brad Lidge to 2008. Swagger isn't going to turn Juan Castro into Chase Utley.
But, you know, swagger helps.
With the team off until Thursday, we'll have plenty of time to sit back and look at where this team stands. Did this four game sweep help you feel a little bit better about the Phillies chances in the second half? Or do you believe this team is too flawed to make a run? What, if anything, would you do if you were Ruben Amaro Jr. come trade deadline?
If nothing else, the last four games reminded us just how fun this team can be when they refuse to give up. I, for one, am glad there's plenty of baseball to be played this summer.
Seniors Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins combined for 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and No. 1 Villanova held off Providence, 78-68, in a Big East game at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon.
Villanova extended a four-point halftime lead to as much as 20 points before hot-shooting Providence closed to within nine with five minutes left. Villanova then went on a 13-3 run to put the game out of reach.
Hart had 25 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats, and Jenkins added 19 points, four boards and four assists. Both shot over 50 percent.
Sophomore Mikal Bridges scored 15 points, matching his Big East career high, and also had three rebounds and three assists, and Jalen Brunson contributed 13 points to go with three rebounds and four assists.
Providence stayed in the game by shooting 13 for 26 from three against the No. 3 three-point shooting defense in Division 1.
What it means
Villanova improved to 19-1 overall and 7-1 and in first place in the Big East. The Wildcats have won five in a row since losing at Butler on Jan. 4.
Providence fell to 13-8 and 3-5 in the conference and 1-6 on the road. The Friars have lost six of eight since an 11-2 start.
Villanova is now 47-34 all-time at the Wells Fargo Center but 14-2 in its last 16 games at the South Philly arena.
Stat of the day
Providence shot better from three (50 percent) than two (44 percent). The Friars made 13 threes and just nine two-pointers.
Providence trailed by just four at halftime at 35-31, but Bridges opened the second half with a steal and fast-break reverse layup and a jumper from the top of the key to start an 8-0 run that gave Villanova a 12-point lead. The Friars never got any close than eight points the rest of the game.
By the numbers
• Providence’s 50 percent shooting from three is the highest against ‘Nova since North Carolina shot 65 percent in the national championship game on April 4 in Houston.
• Villanova’s bench scored just two points.
• Providence’s 13 threes are the most by a Big East team against Villanova since Doug McDermott and Creighton had 21 in a 28-point win three years ago this week.
• Rodney Bullock led Providence with 17 points (3 for 5 from three), Jalen Lindsey added 14 (4 for 7 from three) and Isaiah Jackson came off the bench to score 12 (3 for 3 from three).
• Darryl Reynolds' last two double-digit rebound games have both been against Providence.
Villanova travels to Milwaukee for a Tuesday night game against Marquette. The Golden Eagles are 12-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big East with a game later Saturday at Creighton.
Villanova has won nine straight games against Marquette, since the Golden Eagles — then ranked No. 17 — came back from 18 points down to win 82-78 at the Wells Fargo Center in January 2012.