But no matter how bleak Atlanta's playoff chances, there are still games to be played. Whether September is embarrassing, merely disappointing or perhaps even interesting is entirely up to the Braves.
With that in mind, Atlanta took a step forward from its weekend futility with a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.
Brian McCann hit the go-ahead, two-run double, Lance Cormier gave Atlanta another effective start and the Braves snapped a three-game losing streak at Turner Field.
"We dug ourselves a big hole, but no one in here is giving up," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "Today, hopefully, was a first step toward getting some games back."
It was not a significant step. The Braves (70-68) remained 7 games back in the National League East and are six games out of the wild card before San Diego and Arizona played as former ace Greg Maddux led the Padres to a win Monday.
But McCann said the Braves will need to remain optimistic for the 24 games they have left.
"You have to," McCann said. "If you don't, there's no point in playing the games. You have to still think we have a chance to make it. It's been done before."
The five runs were more than Atlanta scored all weekend against the NL East-leading New York Mets. The Braves also had three extra-base hits, after failing to record one in three games against the Mets until the ninth inning of Sunday's series finale.
McCann's RBI double in the fourth put the Braves ahead 2-1. Kelly Johnson, Brayan Pena and Jeff Francoeur each drove in one run ensuring Atlanta would win comfortably.
"We made a lot of progress today and got some timely back-to-back hits, which we haven't had," manager Bobby Cox said. "We didn't hit any balls out. But timely hits are what you want, anyway."
The Braves didn't need many of them with the pitching they got. Cormier gave up just one run on four hits in 5w innings. Four relievers combined to hold the Phillies scoreless the rest of the way.
The win was the second in a row for Cormier (2-4), who struck out five and gave up only one walk. The right-hander relied primarily on his curve ball to help give the Braves a much-needed win.
"It's a step," McCann said. "We have to put a winning streak together if we're going to make it to the postseason, and I think everybody in here knows that."