Houston Astros’ Ronel Blanco Throws Franchise’s 17th No-Hitter in Spectacular Fashion

In the eighth start of his career and first start of 2024, Houston Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco threw the 17th no-hitter in franchise history on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.

If it weren’t for injuries to starters Justin Verlander and José Urquidy, Blanco wouldn’t be in this position and he only needed 105 pitches to complete the feat. It’s the first no-hitter for the Astros since Framber Valdez threw one against the Cleveland Guardians on Aug. 1, 2023, and according to OptaSTATS, it’s the earlier no-hitter (by date) in MLB history. The one prior to Monday was on April 4, 2001, when Hideo Nomo no-hit the Colorado Rockies as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

The Astros are coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees and needed a big performance from someone to help ignite the fire the team was searching for over the weekend. They got it in the form of a 30-year-old who signed for $5,000 as a 22-year-old out of the Dominican Republic and is coming off a modest 2-1 season in which he finished with a 4.50 ERA.

Monday’s no-hitter was just his eighth start in the major leagues. Blanco appeared in 17 games for the Astros last season and seven in his rookie year of 2022. He was on cruise control for most of the game and the Astros bullpen didn’t see any action until he walked George Springer in the ninth inning. His command was spot-on, only needing 50 pitches to get through the first four innings. He threw nine pitches in the sixth and 11 in the seventh, putting him at 81 pitches with six outs to go.

Ronel Blanco of the Houston Astros celebrates after pitching a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on April 1, 2024, in Houston.

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Blanco’s defense made plays to preserve the no-hit bid in the eighth and ninth innings. The first out of the eighth was a ground ball off the bat of Alejandro Kirk that deflected off of Blanco and rolled toward second base. Gold Glove winner Mauricio Dubón, who had entered the game for José Altuve, threw out Kirk at first. The second out of the ninth was a diving stop by José Abreu on Cavan Biggio’s rocket off the barrel. Abreu made the back-handed play, rolled over, propped himself to a seated position, and threw to Blanco who beat Biggio to first by a step.

The offense also came alive and crushed five home runs in the contest. Kyle Tucker and Yainer Diaz launched two each, homering in the first and seventh innings. Jeremy Peña hit a solo homer in the second inning, snapping a 293-at-bat home run drought that dated back to July 5, 2023. The win is also significant for manager Joe Espada, who records his first win on a no-hitter.