Astros' Ronel Blanco issues first no-hitter of 2024 MLB season


April 2 (UPI) -- He may only been in the Houston Astros' rotation because of injuries to other starting pitchers, but Ronel Blanco made history in his first start of 2024, logging the first no-hitter of the MLB season.

The 30-year-old right hander issued seven strikeouts and just two walks in the nine-inning effort Monday in Houston, helping the Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-0. He threw 105 pitches, including 73 for strikes.

"I see it as a great blessing for me and my family," Blanco told reporters. "I see it as a life-changing experience. I dedicate this to my family and my [newborn] daughter."

Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker went 2 for 3 with two home runs and four RBIs. Astros catcher Yandy Diaz went 2 for 4 with two solo homers. Shortstop Jeremy Pena went 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs.

Blanco, who was making his eighth career start, walked Blue Jays right fielder George Springer in the game's first at-bat. He retired the next 26 hitters in order. Blanco then issued another walk to Springer with two outs in the ninth inning. He ended the game by forcing Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. into a ground out.

Astros second baseman Mauricio Dubon fielded the dribbler. He then threw Jose Abreu at first base for the 27th -- and final -- out.

Blanco made a kissing gesture toward the sky before Diaz jumped into his arms. He was then swarmed by teammates as they celebrated the 17th no-hitter in Astros history and 323rd in MLB history.

The pitcher, who welcomed his second child last week, also celebrated the accomplishment by hugging his mom, who watched the game from the stands.

"What a week he's had," Astros manager Joe Espada said. "I'm happy for him and his family."

Blanco, who made his MLB debut April 8, 2022, went 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA over 17 appearances last season. He is 3-1 with a 4.14 ERA over 25 career appearances.

The Astros (1-4) will host the Blue Jays at 8:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.