Houston Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco throws first no-hitter of MLB season

Houston Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco threw the first no-hitter of the nascent MLB season on Monday, helping his team to a 10-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

In just his eighth career MLB start – with four Astros starting pitchers missing through injury – Blanco was handed the opportunity to lead Houston and he did so in impressive fashion.

The 30-year-old threw 105 pitches and struck out seven Blue Jays as he stymied the Toronto offense at Minute Maid Park.

According to the Astros, Blanco threw 36 changeups, 34 sliders, 31 fastballs and four curveballs. He forced 59 swings in the game, including 20 misses – half of which came on his changeup.

His final out came as Blanco made Toronto slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ground out to second baseman Mauricio Dubón.

The no-hitter is the 17th in Astros franchise history.

Throwing a no-hitter – where you do not allow a hit from opposing batters – is one of baseball’s greatest achievements, going nine or more innings and getting 27 or more outs without surrendering a single hit.

It caps off a memorable day for Blanco personally who made the most of the injuries to fellow Astros pitchers Justin Verlander, José Urquidy, Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia.

Blanco completed the historic achievement in just his third major league season, celebrating on the field with his mother afterwards.

His journey has been a tough one, as he was working part-time at a car wash in 2016 in his home country of the Dominican Republic to help his mother when he joined the Astros.

He had been told just days before the new season began by Astros manager Joe Espada that he was being named to the final spot in the rotation. It was truly a serendipitous time for Blanco as he and his wife’s second child was born that same day.

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

Per the MLB, the 17 no-hitters thrown by the Astros in their history are the most thrown by any club since the Astros’ first season in 1962, with the next most in that span being 13 by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Blanco’s performance was vital for the Astros as it helped Houston earn its first win of the 2024 season after opening with four losses to the New York Yankees.

The win also gave first-year Astros manager Espada his first victory in his new role, making history as a result.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Espada became the first manager to have his first MLB managerial win come as part of a no-hitter.

And afterwards, Espada was keen to praise Blanco’s work ethic.

“Just resiliency,” Espada told reporters when asked what makes Blanco special. “This guy, his story is fantastic. The way we signed him from the DR, it’s a pretty remarkable story.

“His journey, he’s in front of his family. His mom is here, and to do that in front of the people that love him and support him, it makes it even that much more special.”

CNN’s Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.

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