The Phillies finally have the gang back together, and now we see if they can make it interesting

“I was aware of it. (The PR guys) tell me about that crap every night. They were wanting me to fix it, I guess.”–Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on his team being 0-38 when trailing after seven innings before rallying to beat the Dodgers on Tuesday.

The Phillies finally are whole again. That happened Tuesday when Roy Halladay returned to the rotation to pitch five innings against the Dodgers.

“I can’t describe how important it is to have Chase (Utley) and Ryan (Howard) back,” Hunter Pence said. “The whole dynamic of the lineup changes. It makes it tougher on pitchers to deal with. We have more intangibles with them in the lineup. It goes beyond just how good they are.”

The Phillies are in last place in the NL East, 13 1/2 games out of first. They’re 10 out in the NL Wild Card race and have seven teams to pass to snag one of the playoff spots. Those numbers make the mission seem almost insurmountable, but it’s always like that at this time of the year.

All the Phillies can do is starting rolling up victories and pay no attention to the schedule. When you look at them now, with all the pieces back in place, it’s tough not to believe. They’ll return home Friday for a six-game home stand against the Giants and Brewers before going on the road for six against the Nationals and Braves.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will use these last few days before the July 31st trading deadline to get a deal done with Cole Hamels. Even if he feels compelled to trade him, it doesn’t mean the Phillies are pulling the plug on the season. They’ve got too much money invested the next few years to make any dramatic change of direction.

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