Howard, the longest-tenured member of a young Phillies roster, was reminiscent of his former MVP self in a 4-3, 11-inning win over the Indians, the Phillies' seventh victory in their last eight and their fourth straight overall. He went 3-for-5 with a double and a line-drive homer off Cleveland closer Cody Allen.
"I think you savor it at any moment in your career, whether you're a rookie, whether you're a veteran, and those are always great situations to be in and come through for your team," Howard said.
And this current team is playing better than any team Howard -- in his 13th Major League season -- has been on in the last few seasons. At 13-10, the Phillies are three games over the .500 mark for the first time since Sept. 21, 2012, when they were 77-74. Only Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Freddy Galvis and Darin Ruf remain from that roster.
"I'm having a blast. The team itself is having a good time," Howard said. "… There's a different energy, and you could feel that at the end in Spring Training. And the way everything's been going, it's great."
Friday's three-hit performance was also Howard's best showing so far in the 2016 season. In what was just his second multi-hit game of the year, Howard cranked his fifth home run and first double. He upped his average from .185 to .214, and that double was the first hit in what turned into a three-run fifth inning.
"He hasn't been swinging the bat very well, and he got a couple hits earlier in the game," Phillies manager Pete Makanin said of Howard. "Any time you hit a walk-off home run, it's exciting for everybody, and I'd like to see Howard do it another 25 times -- not necessarily a walk-off."
Ruiz, who is next behind Howard in terms of service time in Philadelphia, drove Howard in with a double in the fifth. Ruiz is now hitting .297 this season, and though the Phillies' season will be mostly about their younger talent, their veterans are showing they can still make a difference.
Stephen Pianovich is a contributor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.