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The best things we saw this week: Ronel Blanco's no-hitter provides surprising early-season highlight

The Astros right-hander made sure everyone learned his name by throwing the first no-no of 2024

Each season, opening week in Major League Baseball provides three things: excitement from every fan base, a newness akin to the first day of school and ridiculous overreactions to extremely small sample sizes. These things are what make the first week of the season so fun.

With the 2024 MLB season underway, let’s highlight the best things we saw in the first week of games.

1. AstrosRonel Blanco tosses no-hitter in eighth career start

You probably didn’t know who Ronel Blanco was last week, but the Astros right-hander made sure everyone learned his name by throwing the season’s first no-hitter in a 10-0 victory Monday against the Blue Jays. This wasn’t a great performance against a bad team; this was a fantastic performance against a team with multiple All-Stars trying to contend for the postseason.

After several injuries to the Astros’ rotation forced Blanco into starting action, things lined up perfectly for him to have his date with history. Making just his eighth career MLB start, Blanco looked unfazed against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Co. en route to the 17th no-hitter in Astros’ history. The 30-year-old right-hander faced just two batters over the minimum, courtesy of the two walks he issued to George Springer.

Ronel Blanco headshot
Ronel Blanco
SP - HOU - #56
no-hitter
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Blanco’s no-hitter might be baseball’s most improbable no-no since southpaw Tyler Gilbert twirled a no-hitter in his first career start for the D-backs in 2021. Many believed Blanco’s role in the big leagues would come in the bullpen, not the rotation. Looking at his LIDOM numbers, it’s easy to see why: Blanco owns a career 0.98 ERA in 52 games as a reliever for Estrellas Orientales.

In recent years, the Astros and their fans have seemingly gotten used to seeing history from their pitchers, as Houston owns four of the past seven no-hitters in baseball, including the combined no-hitter thrown in the 2022 World Series. The Astros’ 17 no-hitters since the team’s first season in 1962 are the most in MLB in that span.

Who knows if Blanco will become a fixture in Houston’s rotation this season. Once the team’s pitching is at full strength, it’s probably unlikely. But for one night, Blanco was at the top of the mountain.

2. Ricardo Pinto’s wild day in Philly

You won’t find Phillies right-hander Ricardo Pinto taking his time in the big leagues for granted. Pinto, who had last pitched in the majors in 2019 with the Rays, earned a four-inning save in the Phillies’ 9-4 win over the Reds on Tuesday.

And it was no ordinary relief appearance. Pinto was in Rochester, New York, with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate, Lehigh Valley, when he got the call that he was needed by the big-league club. From there, his nearly six-hour car ride was delayed by traffic, and he didn’t make it to Citizens Bank Ballpark until the fourth inning. After greeting manager Rob Thomson, he quickly got ready in the bullpen and came out to pitch the sixth.

Ricardo Pinto headshot
Ricardo Pinto
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4-inning save
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Pinto was signed by the Phillies as an international free agent as a 17-year-old in 2011, and he debuted in the big leagues in 2017 at the age of 23. His first stint with the Phillies was a brief cup of coffee before he bounced around to Tampa Bay, then Korea, China, Venezuela and Mexico before finding his way back to the Phillies this past February.

Before his outing Tuesday, Pinto’s last appearance with the Phillies had begun with him facing Andre Ethier (!!!) on Sept. 21, 2017.

3. Mike Trout reminds the world how good he is

There are few baseball things more enjoyable than a healthy Mike Trout. Of course, Trout has been hampered by injury for the past several seasons, and after he held the title of “best player in baseball” for a decade, due to injuries and the rise of other superstars, including his former teammate Shohei Ohtani, Trout no longer holds that claim.

However, the three-time AL MVP reminded the baseball world exactly who he is on Monday against the Marlins, crushing a titanic, 473-foot blast off George Soriano.

It was Trout’s second home run of the game but somehow not the longest homer of his career. According to Statcast, Trout’s longest home run came on Oct. 5, 2022, when he launched a 490-foot moon shot at the Oakland Coliseum.