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Astros spot-starter Ronel Blanco delivers stunning no-hitter vs. Blue Jays

Astros spot-starter Ronel Blanco delivers stunning no-hitter vs. Blue Jays

Houston Astros starting pitcher Ronel Blanco delivers during the first inning of his no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

This was unexpected.

Houston Astros reliver Ronel Blanco got a spot start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday. He finished with the first no-hitter of the 2024 season in a 10-0 Houston win.

A third-year major leaguer primarily with relief experience, Blanco had never thrown more than six innings in an MLB game. He pitched nine stunning innings Monday in the eighth start of his MLB career.

With two outs in the ninth, Blanco walked George Springer for only his second baserunner allowed all night. But he induced a groundout from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to secure the unlikely no-hitter.

Blanco's night got off to an inauspicious start when he walked Springer to lead off the game. But then he retired 26 consecutive batters before walking Springer again in the ninth. Outside of those walks, he was perfect.

He also got some clutch defensive help in the ninth. Cavan Biggio smoked a ball toward first base with one out. But José Abreu was there to make the play to record the second out of the inning.

Blanco finished the game with 75 strikes on 103 pitches. He tallied seven strikeouts and two walks. The no-hitter was the 17th in Astros franchise history. Blanco was only on the mound Monday because of injuries to starters Justin Verlander and José Urquidy to begin the season.

The win is the first for the Astros after a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees to open the season. It was also the first career win for rookie manager Joe Espada, who took over for the retired Dusty Baker this season. Blanco's catcher, Yainer Diaz, helped power the offense with two home runs in the win.

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