Hug with mom awaited Astros' Ronel Blanco after no-hit game, a big moment in pitcher's long journey

The Dominican Republic native's first MLB contract was worth $5,000, signed at 22, older than other international prospects.

Greg Bailey Image
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Embrace with mom awaited Astros' Ronel Blanco after no-hit game
Ronel Blanco's no-hitter thrown during the Astros' first win of 2024 marked a remarkable road to the majors. He also did it with his mom in the crowd.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It might seem too good to be true if Monday night was like a movie.

Major League Baseball scouts passed over Ronel Blanco as he worked at a car wash to help his mother in the Dominican Republic. All the infielder-turned-pitcher ever wanted was a chance.

Long after most players his age had signed professional contracts, a then-22-year-old Blanco finally got the call from the Astros and signed for $5,000 in 2016.

On Monday, all the work and years of waiting paid off.

SEE ORIGINAL STORY: No fooling around: Astros starting pitcher Ronel Blanco throws franchise's 17th no-hitter

Blanco, the Houston Astros' fifth pitcher in a makeshift starting rotation, threw the first no-hitter of the 2024 season, dominating a potent Toronto Blue Jays lineup with 105 pitches and seven strikeouts.

Afterward, the 30-year-old celebrated with an emotional embrace with his mother, Maria, who saw every pitch at Minute Maid Park.

Blanco told reporters he had traveled a "long road," adding that he endured "a lot of falls and a lot of me getting back up."

Blanco's hug for his mother came after he was mobbed by his teammates after recording the final out in the ninth inning.

Joe Espada became the first MLB manager to record his first career win with a no-hitter.

"To do that in front of the people who love him and support him, it makes it even that much more special," the first-year manager told

This also makes the moment memorable: Blanco was the last pitcher to make the Astros' starting rotation for the new season.

He only got his chance to start after injuries to players like Justin Verlander and Jose Urquidy. He'll get more opportunities after throwing the 17th no-hitter in Astros history in just the eighth start of his Major League career.

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