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Ronel Blanco

Ronel Blanco dedicates no-hitter to his family

Astros righthander Ronel Blanco no-hits Blue Jays

HOUSTON –With his oldest child and his mother Maria among the modest crowd at Minute Maid Park and his wife and newborn watching from home, Ronel Blanco celebrated with a magical performance Monday night.

Although the birth of his second child six days earlier might surpass Monday night’s heroics by a fraction, Monday was historic for Blanco and the Astros.

Blanco delivered the best outing of his life. He held the Toronto Blue Jays to a pair of walks while throwing the first no-hitter of his career and the 17th in Astros history before a crowd of 27,285.

Ronel Blanco: ‘A great blessing’

“I see it as a great blessing,” Blanco said after the 10-0 victory. “A great blessing for me and my family. The arrival of my daughter I see as a life-changing experience. I dedicate this to my family and daughter.”

Blanco, 30, threw the no-hitter in his eighth career start. After bouncing between the bullpen and the rotation the previous two seasons, Blanco had a great spring training to earn a spot in the Astros’ depleted starting rotation.


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No matter his role, the Santiago, Dominican Republic, native had his family in the forefront. Blanco’s success comes from many years of resiliency. Many teams passed on signing him in the Dominican Republic due to his inconsistent bat. His luck changed as the Astros took a chance on him as a 22-year-old right-hander. Eight years later, he gained a bit of baseball immortality.

Blanco walked George Springer to start the game. Then he shut down 24 straight batters while striking out seven. He didn’t allow another runner on base until he walked Springer again in the ninth inning with two outs.

Ninth inning drama

With his life coming to a full circle and the crowd cheering him on, Ronel Blanco felt the nerves and adrenaline that come when you are one out away from a no-hitter. Astros catcher Yainer Diaz went to calm him down before the final batter. 

Diaz appreciated how Blanco felt because he felt the weight of the no-hitter since the seventh inning. The fans held their breath as Jose Abreu dove in the ninth inning for a 97.6 mph line drive off the bat of Cavan Biggio. Blanco didn’t have time to admire the dive because he was busy sprinting to first base for the second out to preserve his fate in Astros history.  

He faced another threat as arguably the best hitter for Toronto stepped in the box. However, Blanco had Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s number all game. Blanco had already struck Guerrero out three times prior to the ninth inning at-bat. 

Guerrero Jr. hit a ground ball over Blanco’s head. A hesitant Blanco tried to reach for it. He held back, though, because he almost lost his no-hitter an inning earlier after the ball ricocheted off his glove. Second baseman Mauricio Dubon had to make an extraordinary play to nail Alejandro Kirk at first base in the eighth to maintain the no-hitter after Blanco tipped the ball.

Blanco says Dubon yelled “No” as he made the final out. Diaz jumped into Blanco’s arms as their teammates followed near the mound to celebrate. 

Changeup was key for Ronel Blanco

Blanco threw 105 pitches, 73 of them for strikes. A key to Blanco’s masterful outing was the efficiency of his off-speed pitches, especially the changeup. He threw 36 changeups, 34 sliders and 31 fastballs. 

The changeup was the pitch that Blanco strived to perfect in spring training to supplement his fastball. Since he started his pre-game warm-ups, Blanco knew he was destined for a great outing. 

“I felt it immediately when I started throwing in the bullpen,” Blanco said of his arsenal. “I felt that a lot of my pitches were very good. I felt that as well when I got to the ninth inning.”

Although Blanco had his best stuff tonight, the virtue of his pitches dates back to hard work he showcased in spring training. His goal for the spring was to take control of his offspeed pitches.

“I noticed the changeup since spring training,” Diaz said. “Every single time I called it in spring training it was commanded well. I knew that was a pitch he worked on a lot in the offseason.”

After suffering a four-game sweep against the Yankees in the opening series, the Astros appreciated Blanco’s magical night.

“Impressive performance,” Astros manager Joe Espada said after his first career victory. “We needed that. Blanco stepped up and he had an incredible start and performance. What a week he’s had, and I am happy for him.”

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