Houston Astros Star Pitcher Reveals Thoughts After Being Pulled During No-Hitter

One of the Houston Astros star pitchers had a chance to be part of history again, but he was pulled before he could make that happen.
Jun 16, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros pitching coach Joshua Miller (36) visits Houston Astros starting pitcher Ronel Blanco (56) on the mound as they play against the Detroit Tigers in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park
Jun 16, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros pitching coach Joshua Miller (36) visits Houston Astros starting pitcher Ronel Blanco (56) on the mound as they play against the Detroit Tigers in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

The Houston Astros have Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez at the top of their rotation, but this season, whenever they need a big win, it seems like Ronel Blanco is the one who delivers it.

The 30-year-old came into this campaign relatively unknown.

He had only pitched 24 times in the Majors during 2022 and 2023, posting an ERA of 7.11 and 4.50 respectively.

It was revealed that he would be part of the starting rotation to start this season with Verlander and Jose Urquidy beginning on the injured list.

Blanco took advantage of his opportunity, throwing a no-hitter in his first start of the year and the eighth of his career, putting him on the map quickly as he was catapulted into the national spotlight.

On Sunday, the right-hander had a chance to do something truly incredible.

But, with another no-hitter on the horizon through seven innings, manager Joe Espada decided to pull him after Blanco reached 94 pitches.

"That fifth inning, those three walks there, taxed him a little bit. But a no-hitter for seven innings? That's pretty damn good," Espada said according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com when asked about his decision to pull his starter.

While it certainly was a good outing, it could have been special.

Only six pitchers in MLB history have thrown two no-hitters in the same season.

If Blanco would have accomplished this rare feat, he would have joined the likes of Johnny Vander Meer, Allie Reynolds, Virgil Trucks, Nolan Ryan, Roy Halladay and Max Scherzer.

But, Blanco's manager took it out of his hands, sparking the new-age debate about how starting pitchers are used in today's game.

For what it's worth, the Astros' starter had a feeling he might get pulled.

"I knew I had thrown a lot of pitches and I wasn't going to be able to finish it, so I just accepted it," he said.

That certainly has to be a tough pill to swallow, knowing he was just six outs away from doing something rarely accomplished twice in the same season, but from Houston's point of view, they likely did the right thing.

As their playoff hopes dwindle with each loss they take, they cannot afford to lose Blanco who has been their best starter with a 2.43 ERA through 13 starts with the most innings pitched out of that unit at 77.2.

Based on the comments made by Blanco after the game, it sounds like there's no hard feelings and he understands the decision that was made, but it's still disappointing he wasn't able to go out there and chase history once again.


Published
Brad Wakai

BRAD WAKAI

Brad Wakai graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Journalism. While an undergrad, he did work at the student radio station covering different Penn State athletic programs like football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and other sports. Brad currently covers the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros for Sports Illustrated/FanNation. He is also the Lead Contributor for Nittany Lions Wire of Gannett Media where he continues to cover Penn State athletics. Brad is the host of the sports podcast I Said What I Said, discussing topics across the NFL, College Football, the NBA and other sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @bwakai