The Phillies lost to the Nationals, 5-1, Monday night to fall back to .500 at 27-27.
It guaranteed that they'd move back at least one spot to eighth in the eight-team National League playoff field.
A few other key teams lost to lessen the blow.
Brewers and Reds
The Brewers and Reds face each other in a three-game series that began Monday with a 6-3 Cincinnati win. The Reds moved ahead of the Phillies by a half-game into seventh.
Cincy finishes up this weekend in Minnesota. The Twins will likely still be vying for home-field advantage this weekend.
Gabe Kapler's Giants could have moved ahead of the Phillies with a win over the Rockies Monday but lost 7-2.
The Giants have the easiest remaining schedule with all home games against lowly Colorado (without injured Nolan Arenado) and a San Diego team that could have nothing to play and nowhere to move in the bracket by the weekend.
The Cardinals lost to the Royals. St. Louis is still a half-game ahead of the Phils.
After three in KC, the Cardinals host the Brewers in a five-game series to end the season. Those teams will help take care of each other.
The Marlins lost to the Braves. Miami remains one game ahead of the Phillies and, importantly, also owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.
6 teams for 4 spots
Here's what it looks like, assuming the Giants don't come back against the Rockies:
- 5. Marlins (28-26)
- 6. Cardinals (26-25)
- 7. Reds (28-27)
- 8. Phillies (27-27)
- -- Brewers (26-27)
- -- Giants (26-27)
The Phillies have a doubleheader Tuesday against the Nats and must win both. Aaron Nola pitches Game 1. They really need to win three of four in this series to put themselves in position to make the playoffs.
Every loss this week will also prohibit the Phillies from setting their rotation up in a way that allows Nola to pitch Game 1 of a playoff series. Zack Wheeler and Nola line up to start Saturday and Sunday in the final two games of the regular season. The playoffs start two days later, so if Nola pitches the season finale, he couldn't appear in the playoffs on regular rest until Game 3, if the Phillies get that far.