The sample is too small, but last night again showed that when Jimmy Rollins is smoking line drives, the Phillies are a different team, one capable of scoring bushels of runs.
Rollins, who has been in a funk for most of the season, went 2 for 5 with a run scored and two RBIs as the Phillies beat the New York Mets, 7-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 45,231 at Citizens Bank Park.
Even Rollins' outs were hit sharply.
"When he gets on base, especially early in the game, it creates a lot of energy for us," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Of course, the Phillies received a major boost from righthander Rodrigo Lopez, who last appeared in the major leagues in 2007 with Colorado and missed most of the 2008 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Lopez, who recorded 14 or more wins three times with the Baltimore Orioles, pitched 61/3 innings. He exited to a standing ovation when he was lifted for Chan Ho Park after surrendering consecutive RBI doubles to Nick Evans and Brian Schneider.
Lopez allowed two earned runs, striking out four and walking just one. He threw 96 pitches - 62 for strikes.
It's hard to think the Phillies expected this type of debut from a pitcher who was 5-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 13 starts for triple-A Lehigh Valley.
What the Phillies did expect was plenty of table-setting by Rollins, who ended his 0-for-28 skid Thursday with two hits in a 5-2 loss in Atlanta.
Rollins set the tone last night with a leadoff double in the first inning; he scored on Chase Utley's single. Greg Dobbs' two-run single made it 3-0, and Lopez had an early cushion.
"It's big to start that way, with a lead like that," Lopez said. "It makes you more aggressive in the strike zone."
Rollins was the catalyst to the early lead, although maybe fearing jinxing himself, he opted to focus his comments elsewhere.
"I don't talk about myself," he said when asked whether he was starting to get into a groove.
That's OK, because others were more than willing to discuss Rollins' importance to the team.
"Jimmy's personality and the way he plays the game, he creates a good feeling," Manuel said.
It was the first time Rollins had put together consecutive games of two or more hits since totaling five hits June 7 and 9.
Utley's second-inning sacrifice fly and Jayson Werth's solo home run in the third preceded another piece of good hitting and hustle by Rollins.
In the third inning, he turned what looked like a sharply hit two-run single to center field into a double when he kept motoring while none of the Mets covered second base.
"I took advantage of their mistake," Rollins said.
In games this season when Rollins has scored, the Phillies are 29-7.
That is one statistic that clearly isn't misleading and emphasizes the importance of Rollins to the offense.
The Phillies faced rubber-armed Livan Hernandez, an innings-eater who is not bound by strict pitch counts. That's a good thing, because Hernandez needed 36 pitches to get through the first inning.
He is the only active pitcher to throw a complete game for six teams, and he entered last night with 46 complete games. Hernandez was never close to No. 47, leaving after surrendering seven runs in three-plus innings.
The Mets, who have nine players on the disabled list, simply lacked the offensive arsenal to make up the deficit.
Of course, plenty of Phillies enjoyed a big night off Hernandez, but any upward curve in offense by Rollins has to be looked on with optimism.
Last night was the opener of a 10-game homestand for the Phillies leading up to the all-star break. They are 14-22 at Citizens Bank Park, a statistic they would like to reverse - just as they hope to see Rollins' batting numbers rise.