Houston Astros’ Ronel Blanco no-hits Toronto Blue Jays

Ronel Blanco, making his first start of the season, baffled the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, pitching a no-hitter in the Houston Astros’ 10-0 victory.

Blanco, coming off a modest 2-1 season in which he concluded with a 4.50 ERA, ignited an Astros club that was coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees, giving Houston its first victory of the season and Major League Baseball its first no-hitter of the year. He threw 105 pitches, posting seven strikeouts along the way, with just two walks.

When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded out to end it, Blanco smiled broadly before raising his arms above his head just before being mobbed by teammates decked out in Houston’s Space City uniforms.

“Impressive performance,” Houston first-year manager Joe Espada said. “We needed that. Blanco stepped up and gave us an incredible performance.”

Blanco averaged 93.6 mph with 31 fastballs, while also throwing 36 changeups, 34 sliders and four curveballs in the victory. He had never pitched a complete game as a professional.

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It’s the eighth time in franchise history that the Blue Jays have been no-hit, and continued a topsy-turvy start for the Toronto offense.

In a four-game opening series vs. the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto scored 17 runs in its two victories and just three in two losses at Tropicana Field.

“Give him credit, I know that’s really hard to do,” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “I know he hasn’t been starting much, but he was really good and his changeup was outstanding.”

Blanco, 30, appeared in 17 games for the Astros last season, and seven in his rookie year of 2022. Monday’s no-hitter was just his eighth start in the major leagues and was the 17th in Houston’s franchise history.

“It was special. For me personally, getting that first win as a manager is special,” Espada said. “[But] it’s about Blanco, he should get the lineup card. It’s about him.”

The Astros led 7-0 after early home runs by Kyle Tucker, Yainer Diaz and Jeremy Pena, taking advantage of Toronto’s Bowden Francis (0-1), who was making his first major league start. Houston concluded with five long balls, more than enough support for Blanco.

“It’s tough, you want to be patient, but his stuff was good,” Schneider said. “If anything, you just tip your hat to a guy who threw a no-hitter. He had good stuff.”

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