HOUSTON 4, COLORADO 1

5 quick kicks from Dynamo at Colorado Rapids

Houston Dynamo supporters made the trip to Colorado to witness their team win their first away match of the season. (Photo by Jesus Zamorano/Houston Dynamo)

The Houston Dynamo picked up a 4-1 victory in their first away game of the season on Saturday night. The win improves the team's record to 3-0-1, keeping their undefeated start in league play intact, to provide the best start in franchise history.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Winning on the road

HIGHLIGHTS: Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo | March 30, 2019 www.youtube.com

Anyone who has followed the team through the last few years knows well about the Dynamo's struggle to pick up points on the road. It's an abysmal record and one that has definitely played a part in the team's inability to make the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. To support that point further, the team only lost once at home in the only year of that stretch that they did make the playoffs.

While the Dynamo are certainly capable of providing another strong year at home, they will not want to depend on those results alone to define their season. Wins while playing away, especially to bad teams like Colorado, are opportunities that need to be maximized. On this occasion, they did and it only helps the team build confidence moving forward.

2) Undefeated start to the season

Another thing that can be taken away from the 2017 season, the only one where the Dynamo made the playoffs in recent years, is the strong start the team had that year. The Dynamo have fallen victim to not having a bigger sense of urgency early in other recent years and suffer for it later in the season. Last year, a strong start would have helped alleviate the summer workload that saw the team cave into a winless stretch of 10 straight games.

Now, the Dynamo have certainly benefited from an easy schedule to start 2019 but, to their credit, they've taken care of their business. Who they play is not in their control but eventually the team will have to face tougher competition. The schedule will get more complicated for them starting in May and going into the summer, when they will likely lose a handful of players to international competition. That is why this start is so important and why it may end up being key at the end of the year.

3) Elis the driving force behind the Dynamo

Alberth Elis has now contributed to the last seven of the team's 10 goals this season, including all four in Colorado on Saturday. His speed allowed him to get past defenders and cross the ball into the box, which has essentially become his trademark.

Run, pass, score, repeat was the formula on Saturday night and it worked so much that it ended up with the Rapids scoring on themselves on two occasions. When Elis plays well, the team thrives. Conversely, as it happened in the later part of last season, the team struggles when the Honduran doesn't provide that spark. The Dynamo have to ride this wave of good form, and a week of rest will do the team good to refresh their batteries before their next match in two weeks.

4) Homegrown Rodriguez continues hot streak

Memo Rodriguez, the Dynamo Academy product, picked up his fourth goal in as many matches in the 4th minute of the match. It's already his best season scoring and the 23-year-old shows no signs of stopping.

This run of form certainly gives him more leverage when the manager has to decide who to place in his starting XI. He may not have the speed that some of his peers have but he's certainly shown the skill and ability - and maybe more importantly, the drive to succeed. He's certainly a player to follow, especially to see how he himself fares against tougher competition as the season goes on.

5) Supporters make the trip to Colorado

What can never be understated is the support of the diehards like Texian Army and El Batallon. About a good dozen or two of Dynamo supporters made the trip to the Mile High City, some of them making the 16-hour drive from Houston.

I write a lot on here about the lagging attendance at home games but the never ending loyalty of the supporters groups is admirable. This season, they've followed the team to Guatemala, down to Mexico and now to the team's first away MLS match.

Dynamo player of the game: Alberth Elis

Next up:

Saturday, April 13th vs. San Jose Earthquakes (2:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57)

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Houston can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 26-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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