Astros Starter Ronel Blanco Makes MLB History in Flirting With Second Straight No-Hitter

The Astros pitcher has been nearly unhittable in his first two starts this season.
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Houston Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco has been nearly unhittable in his first two starts this season.

Blanco threw a no-hitter in his first start of the year against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 1 and followed it up by taking a no-no into the sixth inning his next time out against the Texas Rangers on Sunday night before Adolis García reached on a single with two outs in the inning.

Blanco recorded 44 outs before allowing his first hit, the most by an MLB pitcher to start a season since at least the start of the expansion era in 1961.

Blanco’s hot start is even more impressive when you consider that Sunday’s game was only the ninth start of his career. The 30-year-old made his big league debut in 2022, making seven appearances out of the bullpen. He pitched in 17 games last year (seven starts) and was destined for the bullpen again this season until injuries to starters Justin Verlander and José Urquidy created an opening in the rotation.

It was a long journey to the majors for Blanco, who played as an infielder in his native Dominican Republic until he was 18 before transitioning to pitching. International free agents are free to sign with MLB clubs when they turn 16, but Blanco didn’t sign with Houston until he was 22.

Blanco is one of six pitchers in the majors this season to make at least two starts and not allow a run. He has pitched more scoreless innings than anyone else in the big leagues this year.


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Dan Gartland

DAN GARTLAND

Dan Gartland is the writer and editor of Sports Illustrated’s flagship daily newsletter, SI:AM, covering everything an educated sports fan needs to know. Previously published on Deadspin and Slate, Dan also is a former Sports Jeopardy! champion (Season 1, Episode 5).