Astros’ Ronel Blanco Throws First No-Hitter in Major League Baseball This Season

Ronel Blanco has secured a special first…

The 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher, who made his first Opening Day roster, has thrown the first no-hitter in Major League Baseball this season.

Ronel Blanco Blanco struck out seven and walked two in the Houston Astros‘ 10-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night. Blanco, who didn’t play in the MLB until he was 28, was making just his eighth career start. He wouldn’t even be in Houston’s rotation if not for injuries to Justin Verlander and Jose Urquidy.

“It’s been a very long road traveled for me,” he said in Spanish through an interpreter. “A lot of ups, a lot of downs, a lot of falls, a lot of me getting back up. But I think all of that has been worth it for me to be able to get to this moment.”

He walked George Springer to start the game and again with two outs in the ninth.

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.

“I see it as a great blessing, a great blessing for me and my family,” he said. “With the arrival of my daughter I see it as a life-changing experience, and I dedicate this to my family and my daughter.”

It was the 17th no-hitter in Astros history and the first in the majors since Philadelphia’s Michael Lorenzen threw one against the Washington Nationals on Aug. 9 of last year.

Houston’s previous no-hitter came about a week before that one when Framber Valdez did it in a 2-0 win over Cleveland on August 1.

Kyle Tucker and Yainer Diaz each homered twice as the Astros won their first game of the season after losing four to the Yankees. Houston’s Joe Espada became the first manager in major league history to get his first win in a no-hitter.

“I couldn’t be any happier for the way today turned out,” Espada said.

The Astros are the fourth team in MLB history to get their first win of the season in a no-hitter, and the first since Boston’s Hideo Nomo pitched one against the Orioles in 2001. Nomo’s no-hitter that year came on April 4. That was the record for the earliest no-hitter by calendar date, according to Sportradar, but Blanco’s gem broke the mark by three days.

Blanco threw 105 pitches, averaging 93.6 mph with 31 fastballs and also throwing 36 changeups, 34 sliders and four curveballs.

Espada said the changeup was the key to Blanco’s success Monday.

“It makes the fastball and the slider that much better,” he said. “The way it comes out of the hand, it looks just like his fastball and hitters are committed to potentially swinging at a fastball and the ball just kind of falls in the zone. It’s a pitch that he’s worked really hard on and it paid big dividends tonight.”

Toronto manager John Schneider agreed.

“Really good changeup, it was almost like a split, slider combo,” he said. “Give him credit — that’s really hard to do. I know he hasn’t been starting much, but he was really good and his changeup was outstanding.”

Houston’s Yainer Díaz Records His First Two-Homer Game in Astros Win Over the Colorado Rockies

It’s a special first for Yainer Díaz… a two-home run game!

The 24-year-old Dominican professional baseball catcher homered in his first two at-bats and Jeremy Peña added a two-run shot in his return from injury to lead the Houston Astros past the Colorado Rockies 6-4 on Wednesday.

Yainer DíazDíaz had a solo home run in the second inning and his two-run homer made it 3-0 in the fourth in his first career two-homer game.

“It was right on time,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He drove in all the first three runs with some booming home runs and we needed that.”

Peña’s home run came later in that inning to push the lead to 5-0. He returned after missing five games because of a stiff neck.

“I’m just glad I’m back out there with the guys,” he said. “Those five games were tough for me watching from the dugout, but the guys put together great games.”

The Rockies cut the lead to 1 on a homer by Randal Grichuk in the seventh, but Houston added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning to sweep the two-game series and secure a fourth straight victory.

It’s Houston’s seventh win in eight games.

C.J. Cron also homered for the Rockies, who dropped their 10th straight road game.

Houston starter J.P. France (4-3) allowed six hits and three runs in six innings. Ryan Pressly pitched a scoreless ninth for his 19th save.

It’s the seventh straight start of at least six innings for France, a rookie who has made 11 career starts.

“It was a grind but I ended up giving the team a chance to win again,” France said. “And I was able to just keep the streak rolling.”

Colorado’s Chase Anderson (0-4) yielded seven hits and five runs in four innings for his fourth straight loss. He has allowed 30 hits, 27 runs and eight homers in that span.

There was one out in the second when Díaz’s first homer put the Astros on top 1-0.

Kyle Tucker singled to open Houston’s fourth but was caught trying to steal second base. José Abreu singled to right field before Díaz connected again to make it 3-0.

Corey Julks singled with two outs and Peña pushed the lead to 5-0 when he sent Anderson’s next pitch into the seats in right field for his 10th homer this season.

Nolan Jones walked to start the fifth for Colorado before a one-out single by Ezequiel Tovar. A single by Harold Castro scored Jones to cut the lead to 5-1. A wild pitch by France left runners on second and third and Jurickson Profar made it 5-2 with an RBI single.

France limited the damage in the inning when Kris Bryant grounded into a double play.

Cron’s homer came with two outs in the sixth inning to get the Rockies within 5-3.

Hector Neris replaced France for the seventh and Grichuk sent his second pitch into the seats in left field to cut the lead to 1.

Julks and Peña hit consecutive singles with no outs in the seventh. Mauricio Dubón then lined a single to center field to score Julks and make it 6-4.