Houston Astros Pitcher Ejected For Breaking MLB’s Foreign Substance Rule

Houston Astros right-handed pitcher Ronel Blanco was ejected from Tuesday’s game against the Oakland Athletics for violating Major League Baseball’s foreign substance rules.

Blanco was ejected ahead of the top of the fourth inning after umpires inspected his glove and found a foreign substance on it. After a brief meeting on the mound between the four umpires, Laz Díaz tossed Blanco from the game.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – MAY 14: Ronel Blanco #56 of the Houston Astros is ejected in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on May 14, 2024 in Houston, Texas. Blanco was…

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Blanco tried to explain his case to the umpires, but they clearly found the glove to be too sticky, and tossed him from the game. Blanco didn’t argue too much with the umpires, but his manager, Joe Espada, spoke with umpires afterward.

Following the ejection, the umpires immediately removed the glove from the field to be inspected by officials. Espada, Blanco, and even Astros infielders spoke to umpires, apparently in search of an explanation.

Umpires are asked to check pitchers’ gloves after every inning. Blanco’s glove might have been stickier heading into the fourth inning compared to the first, second, and third.

Here’s how Blanco’s ejection unfolded over three minutes, via the Athletics’ television broadcast:

Major League Baseball has been cracking down on “sticky stuff” since the 2021 season. More recently, then-New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer was famously ejected in an April 2023 game after umpires determined he had a foreign substance on his glove. Scherzer pleaded with umpires that it was just rosin — a legal sticky substance derived from tree sap that pitchers can use on the mound. He was ejected despite his protestations. Scherzer, a future Hall of Famer, was suspended for 10 games.

Blanco will likely get that same 10-game suspension following Tuesday’s game if it’s determined he was using an illegal substance while pitching.

Blanco was in the midst of throwing three scoreless innings Tuesday, lowering his ERA to an incredible 2.09 on the season. He’s been a lone bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for Houston, with a record of 4-0 and a 2.09 ERA in 47.1 innings pitched.

Blanco also is responsible for the league’s only no-hitter this season. He no-hit the Toronto Blue Jays on April 1 in just his eighth career start.

Umpires are typically given the opportunity to give an explanation for ejections after the game, via the crew chief and a pool reporter. The Astros will be able to share their side of the story, too. Then it will be in Major League Baseball’s hands to decide if the glove had a banned substance, and potentially levy a suspension on Blanco.

The Astros entered Tuesday’s game at 16-25, fourth place in the American League West.