ATLANTA — Though they are eliminated from postseason contention, the Phillies still have something to play for.
They are trying to avoid the ignominy that will come with being 15 games over .500 in early August and not finishing with a winning record.
It’s not going to be easy given the way this team has played for almost two months. The Phillies lost 2-1 Sunday — they left the bases loaded in the ninth — as the Atlanta Braves completed a four-game sweep one day after clinching the NL East title and bouncing the Phils from the race.
The Phillies are 78-77. They need to win four of their final seven games to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2011. Four of those games are against Colorado and three are against Atlanta next weekend in Philadelphia.
Sunday’s loss officially eliminated the Phils from wild-card contention.
The Phils are 15-29 since Aug. 5 when they led the NL East by 1½ game.
Aaron Nola pitched six innings of two-run ball but took the loss. He is 16-6 with a 2.45 ERA in 32 starts. He is at 205 1/3 innings, far and away a career-high. He has racked up 216 strikeouts and walked just 54.
Nola is scheduled to make his last start of the season Friday night in Philadelphia. With the team out of the race and Nola’s Cy Young chances dimming, it would not be surprising if the Phils held the right-hander out of that start and saved some bullets for next season. More on that later.
Odubel being Odubel
Down a run in the top of the sixth, Odubel Herrera reached base on a one-out infield hit. He was then picked off by lefty Max Fried. Herrera flinched but made no real attempt to get back to the bag and was tagged out easily. When the pickoff was replayed on the huge center-field video board, audible chuckles could be heard coming from the crowd.
One of the four hits that Nola gave up was to Anibal Sanchez, the opposing starter. Sanchez had been hitless in his previous 54 at-bats, including 0 for 38 with 24 strikeouts this season.
The Phillies open their final road series of the year Monday night with the first of four against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Phillies are 31-46 on the road.
The Rockies are very much alive in the NL West and wild card races and they kill the ball at home. They average 5.23 runs per game at home, the highest mark in the NL, and lead the majors in home batting average (.284) and OPS (.832).
The Phillies scheduled starters for the series are Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and Jake Arrieta. Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela are scheduled for Colorado.