How's that for starters?
The Phillies are undefeated after the season's first weekend, marking the first time in 112 years they've begun the season at home with a three-game sweep of a team.
The pitching? As advertised. In the season's first weekend, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Oswalt combined for a 2.84 ERA. In 19 innings, three-fourths of the Four Aces allowed six runs with 23 strikeouts and one walk.
The defense? Shaky sometimes, but it did the job. Francisco made a catch in right while slamming into the fence and knocking San Diego's spot off the out-of-town scoreboard. Rollins make one of those silky smooth spin-and-throws after fielding a grounder up the middle.
The offense? Take away the first eight innings of the season and the Phillies have scored 19 times in the last 19 innings. They went two games without a home run, singling the Astros to death, and then hit two long balls in the first inning of Sunday's finale.
"As far as all the hype, the pitching staff and everything, you have to go out there and do it," Howard said. "On paper, all the hearsay, that's easy. But you have to go out there and do it."
Howard is 7 for 13 to begin the season and took two swings on 3-0 counts Sunday that decided the game. Manuel says he'll almost always leave the decision to swing or take up to his hitter in that situation.
In the first inning, Howard was up with runners on first and second and one out. Houston starter Bud Norris had started him out with three fastballs and Howard said he noticed his velocity was around 94, 95 m.p.h.
"I knew he was probably feeling very confident with it and trying to spot it up," Howard said. "I figured he'd probably come with it."
And there went the first home run of 2011, a mammoth shot deposited into the Phillies' bullpen. Francisco followed two batters later with a solo shot.
In the third, Howard faced Norris with runners on the corners, no one out, and again was in a 3-0 count. This time Norris had mixed in two sliders with a fastball, but Howard said he guessed this time Norris would stay away from the fastball since Howard had killed the last 3-0 one he threw.
He was right. An 87 m.p.h. change-up, down and in that Howard smoked off the top of the right-field wall for a run-scoring double. Howard was asked why he had swung 3-0 both times.
"It depends on how you're going," Howard said. "If you get a green light to swing and you're feeling good then more than likely you'll go for it if it's right there. If you're not, then you won't."
He never really answered the question directly, but yes, Howard is feeling good right now. So are the rest of the Phillies.
And there is still one ace left in the pocket.
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/magelb.