It's all but over for the final statistical goal for the Kansas City Royals. One more loss -- whether it's Wednesday in a series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, or down the final stretch -- and "100" will pop up in the loss column.
Pittsburgh, however, still has one hope alive. That, is finishing above .500.
Pittsburgh (76-74) knocked off the Royals (52-99) in its final at-bat in each of the first two games of the series. Tuesday, it was journeyman Ryan Lavarnway's RBI single in the 11th inning for a 2-1 win.
The Pirates have won four in row, five of six and 10 of 13 on their way, they hope, to at least 82 wins.
"It's always important to have a winning season," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "When things are taken off the table -- to win the division is taken away -- we are trying to win every game we play.
"There is a level of competition that you like to keep in place when you're playing teams that are fighting: the Brewers, the Cubs, the Cardinals. Different storyline here (against Kansas City)."
The Pirates' 76 wins eclipses by one their total in 2017.
"We don't need to get a shirt that says, 'Let's win' or 'We need to win 82,'" Hurdle said. "We had this conversation when I first got here. I get that. I think there's always a sense of winning more games than you're losing when you get to that point where it's real. It's real for us now. We want to win more than 82 games. However, our focus is to win more games than we lose right now because of where we are."
Both teams got good roster news Tuesday. Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who missed Monday's game because of illness, played. Pirates infielder/outfielder Adam Frazier, who left Monday's game after fouling a ball off his right knee, pinch-hit and stayed in the game Tuesday. And Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez was a late scratch Tuesday because of lingering issues with a left thumb sprain, but he entered the game off the bench.
Wednesday, Kansas City right-hander Heath Fillmyer (3-1, 4.76 ERA) is scheduled to face Pirates righty Chris Archer (4-8, 4.66 ERA).
Fillmyer, who has never faced Pittsburgh, is coming off his longest outing of the season, a 6-4 win Thursday over Minnesota when he gave up four runs and five hits in a career-high 7 1/3 innings.
"He threw the ball really well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We wanted to get him through the eighth, but he started to labor."
Archer, meanwhile, is running out of chances this season to prove himself as a worthy trade acquisition. He will be making his ninth start since he joined Pittsburgh from Tampa Bay July 31 and is 1-3 with a 5.49 ERA with seven homers allowed, including 0-2 in his past six starts.
His last time out, he struck out eight but gave up four runs in five innings in a 7-4 loss Friday at Milwaukee.
Archer is 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA in six career starts against Kansas City, all while with the Rays.