'This game makes no sense': Blue Jays stunned by Astros' no-hitter

April 2nd, 2024

HOUSTON -- The Blue Jays were on a little bit of a roll heading into their series with the Astros on Monday. Though they only split a four-game set with the Rays in St. Petersburg, their two wins were massive, as they piled on 17 runs, topped by a nine-run landslide win in the finale.

That offensive output was nowhere to be found on Monday at Minute Maid Park, where the Blue Jays were no-hit by Astros right-hander Ronel Blanco in a 10-0 loss.

This was the eighth time the Blue Jays were no-hit in franchise history. The most recent no-no happened last year, on July 8 in a combined effort by the Tigers in Detroit.

“Baseball, this game makes no sense. Makes no sense whatsoever,” outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “We’ve got a lot of talent in this clubhouse -- guys with some incredible resumes. You don't think we'd ever get no-hit. … In baseball, momentum works in crazy ways. And they had all the momentum tonight and we just couldn't get anything going, [in] any facet of the game for us.”

The Blue Jays produced three baserunners, two in the opening frame and one in the last. George Springer drew a leadoff walk and Justin Turner reached on a fielder’s choice ground ball. That was it for Toronto until Springer drew a two-out walk in the ninth. Blanco finished with seven strikeouts on 105 pitches.

“You know what, it happens,” Springer said. “Obviously, you don’t want it to happen, but it does. There’s times you just have to give the other guy credit. And [Blanco] came out throwing the ball well, made his slider look like a fastball, and obviously threw a lot more changeups than everybody was expecting.”

Springer provided a small amount of drama, arguably the only real intrigue to be found in this double-digit loss. A fan-favorite in Houston during his seven years there, Springer had a chance to be the spoiler in his final plate appearance.

With two outs in the ninth, Springer worked the count full and drew a walk, but the game ended a minute later when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded to second base.

“I had a plan,” Springer said. “I’m not going to say what it was, but I had a plan. The goal is to get to first base. It doesn’t matter if the score is the way it was or it’s not. The goal is to get to first base any way I can. I was glad that I was able to right there.

“You’d like to get a hit, but hey, a loss is a loss. It doesn’t matter.”

Toronto has been no-hit five times since the start of the 2010s, including two separate times by Justin Verlander -- one when he was with the Astros in 2019 and one with the Tigers in '11.

Manager John Schneider called this no-hitter “an outlier,” and credited Blanco’s mix of pitches -- with an emphasis on a particularly deceptive changeup his club seemed to not have anticipated -- for keeping the Blue Jays off the board.

Per Statcast, the Blue Jays recorded only four hard-hit balls (defined as a ball hit at least 95 mph) the entire game. Isaiah Kiner-Falefa had one of them in the third inning -- a fly ball off a Blanco slider that came off the bat at 99.9 mph. Kiner-Falefa thought he gave it “a good ride” and hoped it would fall for a double.

“[Left-fielder Chas McCormick] was just standing there,” Kiner-Falefa said. “That’s just the way it goes. I felt like [Blanco] had his slider going really well, and that’s why he had so much success. He was able to blend the four-seam/slider, and I think the one thing we weren’t prepared for was the changeup. He busted out a changeup that he’s never really used before. That caught us off guard a little bit.”

As did the quiet night at the plate for all Blue Jays hitters -- the same ones who bookended their season-opening four-game set in Tampa with two convincing wins -- 8-2 on Opening Day, and 9-2 in the finale.

“I think that we’re doing all right with where we hope to be in terms of what the offense is supposed to do,” Kiner-Falefa said. “It’s one of those nights. You give credit to a guy that did something really hard to accomplish.”