Blanco ejected due to sticky substance in glove

Astros walk off in 10th on Caratini's liner

May 15th, 2024

HOUSTON -- Astros right-hander , one of baseball’s breakout performers in the first six weeks of the regular season, could be facing a 10-game suspension after he was ejected from Tuesday’s 2-1 extra-inning win over the A’s because umpires found a sticky substance inside his glove.

Blanco, who was 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in seven starts entering the game, had held Oakland scoreless through three innings when first-base umpire Erich Bacchus did a standard check of his glove while he was walking to the mound to start the fourth. All four umpires converged and inspected the glove, and Blanco was subsequently ejected by third-base umpire Laz Diaz, the crew chief.

“They told me that they found something sticky in the glove and that was the reason why they told me I couldn’t continue pitching with the glove,” Blanco said through a team interpreter.

Blanco said the sticky substance was rosin he had put on his forearm and it had made its way into the glove because of sweat. It’s illegal for pitchers to have a sticky substance on their non-throwing hand, a rule which Blanco acknowledged he didn’t know.

“No, I didn’t know that was illegal,” said Blanco, who threw a no-hitter in his first start of the season April 1 against Toronto. “I see other pitchers come in and do it, as well, so I thought that was normal.”

Astros manager Joe Espada was able to examine the glove and said he could see white powder on the inside. He asked the umpires if Blanco could get a new glove and continue pitching and was told no.

“It sucks because he was throwing the ball well,” Espada said. “I believe I kind of saw the substance in there and the stickiness to it.”

Bacchus checked Blanco’s hands and glove after the first inning, when Blanco needed 29 pitches to escape a bases-loaded jam, and found nothing.

“Then when I went to go do his second check, going into the fourth inning, I asked for his glove,” Bacchus told a pool reporter. “That was the first thing I checked. And I felt something inside the glove [he pointed to his palm as he said this]. It was the stickiest stuff I’ve felt on a glove since we’ve been doing this for a few years now. So, I brought the crew in. The crew conferred and then we went from there.”

Diaz said the glove is on its way to the Commissioner’s Office, but said it’s not up to the umpires to determine what the substance was.

“We just felt it was sticky, sticky enough that our fingers got stuck,” he said. “So now it’s all up to the Office on what it was and all that.”

Blanco tried to plead his case before being ejected.

“What I told him is that if you found something sticky in my glove, you should also check my hand because it should also be on my hand,” he said. “If you find something there, just check my hand. And he didn’t.”

Major League Baseball last year began heightening in-game inspections for foreign substances after initially beginning a crackdown in June 2021. First-time offenders are suspended 10 games, and Blanco said he would appeal if he’s suspended.

“It’s something that’s obviously extremely frustrating,” he said. “I want to go out there and compete and try to help the team and I couldn't do that.”

Despite losing Blanco after three innings, five Astros relievers held the A’s to one run and three hits in seven innings, including two innings by Tayler Scott and Josh Hader, who pitched the ninth and 10th innings. Alex Bregman’s third homer in two games put the Astros ahead, 1-0, in the second, and Victor Caratini hit a pinch-hit, walk-off single to win it in the 10th.

The Astros, winners of three games in a row and five of their last six, are early in a stretch of playing 29 games in 30 days and recently went to a six-man rotation to help ease the starters’ workload. Losing Blanco would certainly come at a bad time.