There are only seven games remaining on the schedule of the Houston Astros, but they have yet to lock up a seat in the 2023 MLB playoffs.

Still engaged in a tight race to the top of the American League West division against the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners, the Astros did not do themselves any favors by dropping yet another game against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. That also means the Astros remain winless in this current series against a lowly Royals squad that has zero playoff equity. Houston manager Dusty Baker, however, believes that when it is all said and done in the regular season, the Astros will be on top of the AL West.

I’m a believer in my team and a believer that the cream rises to the top. We’re close,” Baker said after the Astros' 3-2 loss to the Royals, per Brian McTaggart of

The loss to the Royals must be so befuddling for Houston fans. Kansas City had Jordan Lyles going up against the Astros, who ended up getting flustered by one of the worst starters in the majors this season. Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman barely had an impact atop the batting order of Houston, as they combined for a 0-for-7 line with just two walks to show.

The Astros have lost four of their last five games and are on the verge of getting swept by Kansas City at an inopportune time. The Rangers are back on top of the AL West, thanks to Houston's struggles against the Royals and their own success against the Mariners in another ongoing series. Plus the Rangers are on a four-game win streak after their 2-0 victory over Seattle on Saturday.

The Astros have a looming crucial series against the Mariners

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday's finale against the Royals, the Astros will be treating the next series against Seattle that starts on Monday as though their playoff dreams entirely depend on it. The Astros can make the playoffs via the Wild Card route but it's also worth noting that the the Mariners are very much in contention for a WC ticket as well.