Astros’ Ronel Blanco Gets 1st No-Hitter of 2024

Less than a week into the 2024 Major League Baseball season, and just eight starts into the career of Ronel Blanco, we have a no-hitter.

Blanco walked the leadoff hitter in Monday night’s start against the Toronto Blue Jays, and he issued another walk in the ninth inning, but that was it. Between those two walks, the 30-year-old journeyman was perfect. For the entire game he was unhittable.

Blanco didn’t make his MLB debut until 2022, when he was 28. But after seven relief appearances in April, he spent the rest of the season in the minors. In June of last year, he was moved into the starting rotation, but only for seven unspectacular starts. His best outing was 6.0 innings, three hits, two earned runs on two solo home runs, and four walks. And even in the minors, he was mostly a relief pitcher, starting just 34 of his 202 appearances.

Blanco got the start in the first week of the season for the Astros because of injuries to Justin Verlander, Jose Urquidy, and Lance McCullers. Having your first no-hitter in just your eighth career start is quite fast, but it is far from an MLB-record. Three different times in history, a pitcher has thrown a no-hitter in his MLB debut.

Just a week ago, Blanco was named to Houston’s rotation, the same day that his wife gave birth to the couple’s second child.

“It’s been a very long road traveled for me,” the Dominican Republic native told reporters through an interpreter. “A lot of ups, a lot of downs, a lot of falls, a lot of me getting back up. But I think all of that has been worth it for me to be able to get this moment.”

Much-Needed Astros Win

The Astros came into the 2024 season as the American League favorite, just ahead of the New York Yankees. But they began the season with a four-game sweep at the hands of those Yankees at home in Houston.

It was an ugly start to a season of high expectations, but now there is momentum. Every team has a couple of stoppers in their rotation – guys who take the mound and stop losing streaks – and to have an unexpected stop from Blanco is doubly nice for a Houston team sitting at the bottom of the A. L. West.

“It was a great blessing, a great blessing for me and my family. With the arrival of my daughter, I see it as a life-changing experience, and I dedicate this to my family and my daughter.”

The blessing of the moment included all of his teammates, too. In the eighth inning, a ball deflected off Blanco’s glove. But second baseman Mauricio Dubon tracked down the ball and made the play. In the ninth, first baseman Jose Abreau dove to his right to snag a sharply hit ground ball, and threw out the runner while sitting on the seat of his pants.

“The play had to be made,” said Abreu. “That was the only thing I was thinking about, and thankfully I was able to do it.”

At that point, the Astros were up 10-0, so the win was well in hand. But Abreu had to make the play to keep the no-hitter. He did. One more out was made, and Blanco’s name is forever in the history books. And Houston is finally in the win column.

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