WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Phillies, through Wednesday of this week, were the only team in the majors to be over .500 all season.
Then Wednesday happened.
Then Thursday happened.
With a 6-3 loss in the series finale, the Phillies fell a game under .500 at 79-80. They must sweep the Miami Marlins at home this weekend to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2011. But 82-80 will be little solace for fans clamoring for playoff baseball.
The Phils were totally overmatched this week in the nation's capital. The Nats swept the five-game series to finish 14-5 against the Phillies. It matches the Phils' worst record ever against the Nationals/Expos franchise in the 50 years of its existence.
Can't beat the aces
The Phillies lost to Patrick Corbin on Monday, Max Scherzer on Tuesday and Stephen Strasburg on Thursday. Altogether, they went 1-9 when facing Washington's three aces this season.
Wretched fifth inning
The Nationals scored three runs in the fifth inning on one hit. How? Jason Vargas loaded the bases, issuing two walks. He was lifted for Edgar Garcia, who walked in a run, allowed a second run to score on a wild pitch and a third run on a passed ball. The Phillies walked four in the inning, which put the game out of reach.
Jean Segura left the game in the fifth inning with a sprained right ankle. The Phillies may sit him this weekend. Segura has been dealing with nagging lower-body injuries for much of the season.
No Nola on Sunday
Aaron Nola's season is over. Gabe Kapler announced Thursday that Nola, who is tied with Justin Verlander for the most starts in the majors (67) since 2018, is done for the season (see story).
Makes sense. The Phillies have little to play for and Nola has carried an enormous workload the last two seasons, exceeding 200 innings both years.
One series left
Bring on the Marlins. The Phillies are 7-9 this season against Miami. Even the worst team in the league has a chance against you every night when you have one reliable starting pitcher.
Vince Velasquez (7-8, 4.76) pitches Game 1. Feels like it will be his final start as a Phillie.
Zach Eflin (9-13, 4.16) pitches Game 2.
Sunday's starter is TBD. The Phillies could use Cole Irvin or Ranger Suarez in a bullpen game.
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More on the Phillies
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With owner watching, gasping Phillies fall to .500 mark for first time this season
Where does Harper stand on Kapler’s future? Is Nola done for the season?