Skoglund will try to build on strong last outing in Royals’ opener against Reds

Two franchises that enjoyed major success only a few years ago — the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series in 2015, the Cincinnati Reds winning 97 games in 2012 — soon will put an end to seasons they would both love to put behind them.

But first, they must play each other.

The Royals and Reds begin a two-game series Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

The Royals (54-102) already have surpassed 100 losses and will finish last in the AL Central. The Reds (66-91) won’t drop that many, but they will occupy the cellar in the NL Central.

Royals left-hander Eric Skoglund (1-5) opposes right-hander Matt Harvey (7-9), a pending free agent who could be making his last start for the Reds.

If either club was hoping to salvage a dreadful season with a strong September, it hasn’t happened, even with the addition of prospects from the minors.

The Reds are 9-13 this month but, glaringly, they’ve lost eight of 11 as their offense has simply disappeared. They had been one of the majors’ best-hitting clubs most of the season — three of their four starting infielders were chosen for the All-Star Game — but the Reds have been shut out in four of their last seven games and five of their last nine. And they scored only one run in another of those losses.

They finished a 3-7 road trip in which they were limited to 12 runs by losing to the Miami Marlins 6-0 on Sunday, their third defeat in the four-game series.

This isn’t the sign of a team that’s playing to gain some momentum for the start of next season.

“It’ll be good to get home,” said Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman, who still doesn’t know his fate for next season. “It’s been a long trip. Hopefully, we’ll be a little energized when we get home and start swinging the bats a little better.”

The Royals are a more respectable 11-11 in September, but they’ve dropped six of eight despite splitting a four-game weekend series in Detroit.

Skoglund will face the Reds for the first time. He pitched three-hit ball over six scoreless innings in a 2-1 Royals loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 11 innings last Tuesday.

“I felt comfortable out there,” Skoglund said. “I was able to make some pitches and just continue to help me build off that confidence-wise. I was able to get through that sixth inning pretty easily. I felt good.”

He’s already been told by Yost he’ll get one more start this weekend.

“Every game I try to take something out of it,” Skoglund said. “Try to work and learn and implement everything I can into every situation. I can use this (start) and continue to keep the ball rolling.”

Harvey is one of the Reds’ few pleasant surprises this season, going 7-7 after they acquired him from the New York Mets in early May.

He had a rough start his last time out, allowing seven runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 7-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. But Harvey shut out the Chicago Cubs for six innings Sept. 14, giving up four hits, although he didn’t figure in the decision as the Cubs came back to win 3-2.

Harvey allowed four runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-3 loss at Kansas City for the Mets on April 3, 2016. He also faced the Royals in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series when he lobbied to start the ninth with a 2-0 lead but couldn’t finish it and the Royals won the title in the 12th.

The Reds swept a two-game series in Kansas City earlier in the season, winning 5-1 in 10 innings on June 10 and 7-0 on June 11. For the Royals, those losses came during a stretch in which they lost 15 of 16.