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Ronel Blanco of Houston pitched the first no-hitter in MLB this year

Houston’s Ronel Blanco finished a remarkable week.

HOUSTON — Ronel Blanco wrapped up an amazing week.

In just seven days, the right-handed pitcher from Houston became a father, made the opening day roster, and threw the first no-hitter of the season in Major League Baseball.

Blanco had seven strikeouts and two walks in the Astros’ 10-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night. The 30-year-old, who didn’t join the majors until age 28, made only his eighth career start. He would not have been in Houston’s rotation if not for injuries to Justin Verlander and José Urquidy.

“It’s been a long journey for me,” he said in Spanish through a translator. “Many ups and downs, but I believe it’s all been worth it to reach this moment.”

He began the game by walking George Springer and walked him again with two outs in the ninth. When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded out to end it, Blanco smiled broadly, then raised his arms before being mobbed by teammates.

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

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

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

Kyle Tucker and Yainer Diaz each hit two home runs 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 MLB 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.”

The right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic had a smooth game and didn’t need too many remarkable plays from his defense. However, with one out in the ninth, Cavan Biggio hit a grounder to the right side. First baseman Jose Abreu fielded it diving to his right and then, while still on the ground, threw to Blanco covering first for the out.

Abreu said he had to make the play and it was the only thing on his mind.

In the eighth inning, Alejandro Kirk hit a ball that Blanco deflected, and it rolled away from him. Mauricio Dubón, who had just come into the game in place of Jose Altuve at second base, charged in and grabbed it before throwing to first to retire Kirk.

Blanco had never completed a game as a professional pitcher and had not pitched more than six innings.

The Astros hit Toronto’s Bowden Francis (0-1) with 10 hits and scored seven runs in his first major league start.

Altuve hit a leadoff single, and then Tucker’s shot in the first inning made it 2-0 with one out. Diaz hit his first homer with two outs to extend the lead to 3-0.

Peña’s home run to the seats in left field made it 4-0 with one out in the second inning.

Chas McCormick doubled with one out in the fourth inning and scored on a two-out single by Jake Meyers, making it 5-0.

Peña increased the lead to seven with a two-run single in the sixth inning.

Yordan Alvarez walked to start the seventh inning before Tucker homered again to make it 9-0. Diaz connected again with one out, sending one into the seats in right field.

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