Really. The Mets lost, so the Crew, at 14-8, is best in the NL. If the Braves win their game (they're leading), they'll be at 14-8, too. Having the best record in the league on April 27th is only so meaningful, but it's a hell of a lot better than any other outcome.
Tonight's game really couldn't have gone any better. The Brewers struggled to score until the 7th, but against Roy Oswalt, what can you expect? For the second time in a week, the Crew did just enough to beat the Houston ace. Last week, it was Dave Bush who outpitched the $75 million man; this time Chris Capuano threw nearly as well, giving up only a run in his six innings.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing was Ned's use of the ugly part of the bullpen. Chris Spurling came on to start the 7th--maybe not the smartest move, but hey, if we're going to win this many games, Matt Wise can't pitch every time we're in the 7th with a lead--but after he coughed up a leadoff hit, Ned went to door number two. One of these days, a middle reliever is going to emerge who can be trusted with important innings (Balfour? Jackson? the return of Aquino?) and this type of test is the only way we can find out and keep winning games.
One other thought: man, the Houston offense sucks. Minute Maid is possibly the toughest place in baseball for a left-handed pitcher, and the Astros barely got to Cappy at all. Coming into tonight's game, Houston had a team OPS of exactly .700 -- that's basically a team full of Brad Ausmuses. It's one thing if you really are Brad Ausmus, yet another if you're Lance Berkman or Carlos Lee. I'm sure those guys will come around, but the longer they stay cold, the further the Astros fall out of the Roger Clemens sweepstakes. And if the Astros don't get Clemens, that's one more team we don't have to worry about in the Central.
Oddly enough, the second place team in the division is now the Pirates, who won again tonight, and who sit at 11-10. Every one else is below .500. April games may not feel like they matter, but it looks like as long as we win two out of every three, we'll keep opening up some serious space between us and the pack, and I'm sure that'll come in handy at some point during the season. Hey, maybe the Cubs will even throw in the towel and trade Zambrano for prospects!