HOUSTON 2, SAN JOSE 1

5 kicks from Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Alberth Elis proved to be too much for the San Jose Earthquakes. (Photo by Diego Dlouhy/SportsMap Houston)

After a bye week in their schedule, the Houston Dynamo returned to action with a 2-1 league win over San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium. Forward Alberth Elis and midfielder Tomas Martinez scored the goals that would give the Dynamo the win and the three points.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Undefeated streak rolls on

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes | April 13, 2019 www.youtube.com

The Dynamo improved to a 4-0-1 to start the season, their best in club history. This match could've gone to either team as both had opportunities to take the lead in the first half - and both teams were denied by the post. The Dynamo had the slight edge but could not translate that on the scoreboard as forward Mauro Manotas hit the left post on a penalty attempt in the 35th minute.

The second half would be delayed for 70 minutes due to a weather delay but it would be the Dynamo who would go on to win. Alberth Elis went coast to coast as he sped across the field to open the scoring in the 52nd minute. The Earthquakes responded, scoring the tying goal four minutes later, before Martinez would score the winner in the 60th minute.

While the quality of their opponents can be questioned, the Dynamo have taken care of the opposition placed in front of them for a good start to the year. Friday's game at LA Galaxy will give us a better sense of what this team is really capable of.

2) Alberth Elis in beast mode

Elis has tallied three goals and three assists, making him responsible for six of the Dynamo's 12 team goals this season. Sunday's goal extended his scoring streak to three consecutive matches.

The Honduran is arguably the Dynamo's most valuable player, and that's meant in no way to slight Manotas who scored 19 league goals last season. It can even be said that Manotas has had more success because of the support Elis brings him out wide.

With the amount of success that Elis has had in recent weeks, it's still amazing that other teams will only apply one defender on him. That's their mistake and one the Dynamo will be glad to capitalize on every game.

3) Manotas the facilitator

Mauro Manotas enjoyed the best season for a Dynamo forward in 2018 by scoring 25 goals across all competitions. He started this season with two goals in the first two games of the year and since gone on to provide four assists in the past three games, placing him in a tie for second in the league.

The 23-year-old Colombian forward will likely end the year with more goals than assists, but his versatility to do both well is a testament to his work ethic and just another side of his game that makes him lethal in attack.

4) Maynor Figueroa a key piece

Many Dynamo fans probably didn't expect much when the team announced the signing of 35-year-old defender Maynor Figueroa. The Honduran national team captain, who featured in over 150 matches for then-Premier League side Wigan Athletic, has seen the starting lineup in four of the Dynamo's five league matches and all four Champions League matches earlier this year. He's still got a rocket of a shot as well, denied only by the woodwork from long range early in the first half.

Will he be a starter still at the end of the season? That remains to be seen but it's obvious that he has the trust of the manager so expect to see plenty more of Figueroa, at least until June.

5) Tomas Martinez turns in solid outing

Coming out of famed Argentine club River Plate, Martinez has had high expectations throughout his career. When he arrived to the Dynamo in the summer of 2017, the expectations where that the team finally got a number 10 among the likes of other greats in the league at his position. On Sunday, we saw one of Martinez's better games with the Dynamo. As always, however, it's the consistency to do it game after game that will take the team to another level, and that's what still remains to be seen.


Dynamo player of the game: Alberth Elis

Next up:

Friday, April 19th at LA Galaxy (10:00 p.m. CT, Twitter/UniMas)

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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