As the Kansas City Royals inch closer to their first postseason berth in 29 years, the Cleveland Indians are on the verge of being eliminated from contention.
The Royals can end the Indians' playoff chances with a fourth consecutive victory Wednesday night.
Yordano Ventura threw seven scoreless innings and the Nos. 5-8 hitters in Kansas City's lineup combined to drive in every run during a 7-1 victory Tuesday that matched the club's win total from last season.
"We've got to stick to the plan," said first baseman Eric Hosmer, who is 8 for 19 with four doubles in the last five games. "We keep saying it over and over again, but it's what you have to do as a team."
Though the Royals (86-71) are in position with Oakland to claim the two wild-card spots, manager Ned Yost has his sights set on catching AL Central-leading Detroit, which has a one-game lead over his club.
"I'm not really interested in the wild card right now," said Yost, whose team has won three straight and 18 of 25 on the road.
"That (magic) number doesn't mean much to me. The wild card has always been Plan B. We're in good shape right now. Our focus is on winning this division."
Cleveland (82-76), meanwhile, has totaled one run in the last two games after scoring seven apiece while winning the previous two of a weekend series at Minnesota. A loss Wednesday ends the Indians' chances of reaching the playoffs for a second straight year.
"There's not a lot of season left," manager Terry Francona told MLB's official website. "Every time you lose a game, you're disappointed.
"The only thing we can do now is play (Wednesday) and try to win that game."
The Royals have allowed six runs in four games and need Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.59 ERA) to get back on track and end a three-start losing streak in which he's posted a 9.00 ERA.
The left-hander allowed five runs and nine hits in a season-low 3 1-3 innings of a 10-1 defeat to Detroit on Friday.
"A lot can be said to how you start the game off and the way you're able to pitch out of certain situations," Vargas said.
He gave up four runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 6-1 loss Aug. 29 to fall to 1-1 with a 4.12 ERA in three starts against the Indians this season.
Michael Brantley is 4 for 8 with two doubles against Vargas in 2014.
In the midst of a 14-game hit streak, Brantley is batting .413 while hitting safely in 26 of his last 27 contests.
Trevor Bauer (5-8, 4.06) has a 2.45 ERA despite going 0-1 against the Royals this season. The Indians have totaled two runs with him on the mound in those games.
Bauer, 1-4 with a 4.24 ERA in his last 12 starts, allowed three runs in six innings of a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Twins on Friday.
Salvador Perez and Billy Butler are each 1 for 6 with a double versus Bauer. However, Perez is batting .364 in his last six games, while Butler is 5 for 12 in the last three.