Home Sports Astros pull Ronel Blanco after 7 hitless innings in his bid for historic 2nd no-hitter of the season

Astros pull Ronel Blanco after 7 hitless innings in his bid for historic 2nd no-hitter of the season

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Ronel Blanco did not allow a hit for the Detroit Tigers in seven innings on Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Ronel Blanco was two innings away from MLB history on Sunday.

The Houston Astros starter pitched seven hitless innings against the Detroit Tigers in an attempt to record his second no-hitter of the season. Astros manager Joe Espada retired him after 94 pitches with the no-hitter intact. Houston’s bullpen allowed three hits and one run as the Astros won 4-1.

Blanco previously threw the first no-hitter of the 2024 season on April 1, a 10-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. He did so after playing his first two MLB seasons primarily as a reliever. He threw 103 pitches, including 75 strikeouts in the no-hitter, his first career outing with more than six innings pitched. Since then he has been a regular in Houston’s rotation and on Sunday he came within two hitless innings of becoming the seventh pitcher in MLB history to throw two no-hitters in a single season.

Johnny Vander Meer, Allie Reynolds, Virgil Trucks, Nolan Ryan, Roy Halladay and Max Scherzer are the only pitchers in MLB history to accomplish the feat. Scherzer remains the latest with no-hitters thrown against the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets as a starter for the Washington Nationals in 2015.

Blanco set the tone in the first, with strikeouts from Matt Vierling and Riley Greene to close the inning. He was perfect for 4 2/3 innings before issuing three consecutive walks in the fifth. But he got out of the bases-loaded jam by inducing a fly ball from Zachary McKinstry to end the inning.

He then helped his cause in the sixth with some glove work on a line drive back to the mound off Vierling’s bat for the second out of the inning.

He induced two groundouts and a fly ball in the seventh, and Espada had seen enough. Reliever Ryan Pressly took the mound for the eighth inning and Josh Hader closed out the ninth, where he allowed Detroit’s only run of the day.

Espada cited Blanco’s pitch count for the season in his decision to retire him. Blanco has made six starts with 98 or more pitches, including four with 102+.

Did you want to make it more efficient earlier and give it a try? One hundred percent,” Espada said, according to the Associated Press.

Blanco told reporters that he realized he would not be allowed to pitch nine full innings because of his pitch count.

“I made a lot of pitches and I wasn’t going to be able to finish them,” Espada told reporters through an interpreter. “So, I just accepted it.”

Blanco finished his day with zero hits and zero runs allowed with three walks and eight strikeouts. He threw 65 of his 94 pitches for strikes and lowered his season-long ERA to 2.43. He fell short in history, but went on to have an outstanding first season as an MLB regular starter and Houston’s best pitcher.

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