Updated: 10:15 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The Phillies completed a slow fade from contention in a 4-1 loss to the Washington Nationals in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon.
The Phillies’ fifth loss in the last six games ended whatever faint hopes they had of earning the second National League wild-card spot.
And for the eighth straight year, there will be no postseason baseball in Philadelphia. The Phillies also lost Game 2 to the Nationals, 6-5.
As the final week of the season plays out, two significant questions remain for the Phillies.
Will they have their first winning season since 2011? At 79-78, they need to win three of their remaining five games to do so.
And will manager Gabe Kapler be back for a third season? Kapler’s future is very much a subject of discussion among organization leaders (see story).
The Phillies' final five games are against Washington (2) and Miami (3).
Washington surges, Phillies flop
The Nationals clinched a playoff spot Tuesday night.
The Nats became the ninth team in big-league history to be 12 games under .500 at one point in the season — they started 19-31 — and make the postseason.
While the Nationals surged, the Phillies flopped.
They were 11 games above .500 and 3½ games up in the NL East on May 29. The Phils lost 16 of their next 22 to fall 6½ games back in the division race.
The Phillies used a band of relievers to get through the game.
Blake Parker and Mike Morin combined on three scoreless inning out of the gate.
MVP candidate Anthony Rendon drove in a pair of runs for the Nationals, both on sacrifice flies in the fourth and sixth, respectively.
Rendon’s sacrifice fly in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie. With first base open, the Phils could have walked Rendon to load the bases and set up a double play then brought in lefty Jose Alvarez for left-handed hitting Juan Soto. But Kapler let Nick Vincent pitch to Rendon and the Washington slugger drove in his 124th run.
Ryan Zimmerman had an RBI single for the Nats in the sixth.
Hoskins’ struggles continue
Rhys Hoskins went 0 for 3 with a walk. He is hitless in his last 25 at-bats and his batting average is down to .229. He is hitting .182 since the All-Star break.
Back in spring training, it at least seemed possible that the Phillies would try to lock up Hoskins with a long-term contract this winter. That is highly doubtful now. It might even be more plausible that the Phillies shop him in a trade for pitching.
Realmuto out again
Catcher J.T. Realmuto missed his second straight game with right knee soreness. Results from an MRI performed on Monday night were not available before the game. It was not clear whether Realmuto would play in the nightcap — or at all the rest of the season. No catcher in baseball has carried a heavier load than Realmuto. Getting a head start on the offseason recovery process would make sense. Realmuto will be eligible for free agency after next season. It would be surprising if the Phillies did not sign him to a contract extension before then, possibly this winter.
Deivy Grullon made his first big-league start behind the plate for the Phils.
The Phillies have lost four in a row and been outscored 27-9.
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