9 fun facts about Ronel Blanco's no-hitter

April 2nd, 2024

Sometimes, there’s nothing like the “next man up” mentality.

With four Astros starters on the IL (Justin Verlander, José Urquidy, Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia), Houston gave a shot to make his eighth career MLB start on Monday night. All the 30-year-old decided to do from there was throw the 17th no-hitter in franchise history in a 10-0 blowout over the Blue Jays. The historic effort not only gave the Astros their first win of the 2024 season but also provided the first win of Joe Espada’s managerial career.

Here are nine stats and facts about Blanco’s memorable April Fools’ Day no-no.

• The Astros are responsible for four of the last seven no-hitters dating back to Cristian Javier, Héctor Neris and Ryan Pressly’s combined effort against the Yankees in 2022. Lefty Framber Valdez no-hit the Guardians on Aug. 1, 2023, and four Houston pitchers combined to no-hit the Phillies in Game 4 of the 2022 World Series.

• If that sounds like a lot of no-hitters in a very short time span, you’re onto something. The Astros became the seventh franchise in MLB history to have at least three consecutive seasons with a no-hitter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Giants (2012-15) and Dodgers (1962-65) each did so in four straight years, while the Astros tied the Angels (1973-75), Orioles (1967-69), Red Sox (1916-18) and Cleveland (1946-48) by doing it thrice consecutively.

• To that point, Houston now has 17 no-hitters. That’s the most no-hitters thrown by any club since the Astros’ first season in 1962. The next most by any club in that span is 13, by the Dodgers.

• First-year Astros manager Joe Espada made some history of his own with Blanco’s no-hitter. Espada became the first skipper to have his first MLB managerial win -- or their first managerial victory with ANY club -- come as part of a no-hitter, according to Elias.

• The Astros -- who started 0-4 after being swept by the Yankees to begin the 2024 season -- became the fourth team to get their first win of a season in a no-hitter, according to Elias. Hideo Nomo threw a no-hitter for the Red Sox in the second game of the 2001 season, Burt Hooton tossed one in the Cubs’ second game of 1972, and Cleveland’s Bob Feller no-hit the White Sox on Opening Day in 1940 -- at age 21!

• Blanco’s no-hitter was the earliest by date in MLB history, according to STATS. However, it is worth noting that the start of the MLB season has generally grown earlier and earlier over the years. The 2024 regular season began on March 20 when the Dodgers and Padres faced off in the Seoul Series, with Opening Day on March 28. This was just the fourth season since their founding in 1962 that the Astros began play prior to April 1. They did not start the season earlier than April 3 until 1996.

• Blanco’s longest career outing prior to Monday’s no-hitter? It was just six innings, which he achieved twice -- on June 7 and June 24, 2023. That June 7 start came against the Blue Jays club that Blanco went on to no-hit. His career high in pitches was 99 on June 24, and Blanco surpassed that by throwing 105 pitches Monday night. Blanco’s longest outing of 2022, during which he served exclusively as a reliever, was just 1 1/3 innings.

• Blanco became the 10th pitcher born in the Dominican Republic to throw a no-hitter. The most recent one was authored by his teammate, Valdez. The others are Juan Marichal, Ramon Martinez, Jose Jimenez, Ubaldo Jiménez, Francisco Liriano, Ervin Santana, Edinson Volquez and Domingo Germán. Because catcher Yainer Diaz was also born in the Dominican Republic, this became the third instance of a pitcher-catcher battery who were both born in the Dominican completing a no-hitter. Ubaldo Jiménez and Miguel Olivo accomplished the feat, as did Jose Jimenez and Alberto Castillo.

• Ten is the most runs scored by the Astros in a no-hitter in franchise history. Their previous high was nine in their combined effort against the Mariners on Aug. 3, 2019. Houston also hit five home runs, including two apiece by Diaz and Kyle Tucker. Diaz became the first player in MLB history to catch a no-hitter while also hitting multiple home runs, per Elias. Furthermore, the Astros became the second team in MLB history to hit at least five homers in a no-hitter (the Cubs also had five during Jake Arrieta’s no-no on April 21, 2016).