Ronel Blanco throws 7 hitless innings, Jose Altuve homers to lead Astros over Tigers 4-1

Ronel Blanco throws 7 hitless innings, Jose Altuve homers to lead Astros over Tigers 4-1

HOUSTON (AP) — Ronel Blanco had the second hitless outing of his brief major league career but was pulled after seven innings as the Houston Astros beat the Detroit Tigers 4-1 on Sunday.

Manager Joe Espada shared part of the conversation he had with Blanco when he removed the dominant right-hander from the game.

“I just told him how proud I am of what he’s doing,” Espada said. “This is a guy that came out of nowhere and he continues to perform at a high level. He has really picked his team up through injuries and he goes out there and he does things we need him to do.”

Blanco (7-2), who threw the only no-hitter in the majors this season on April 1 against Toronto, was just as good this time in the 20th start and 37th appearance of his career. The 30-year-old threw 94 pitches with 65 strikes and tied a season best with eight strikeouts. He walked three.

“I was just attacking the strike zone,” he said through an interpreter.

Ryan Pressly replaced Blanco to start the eighth and gave up the Tigers' first hit, a two-out single by Wenceel Pérez.

Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer for Houston.

Blanco is the second pitcher in franchise history to have two starts with at least seven hitless innings in the same season, joining Framber Valdez, who did it last year.

The Tigers couldn’t do much of anything against Blanco a day after they had a season-high 19 hits in a 13-5 trouncing of the Astros.

Blanco didn’t allow a baserunner until he walked Gio Urshela with two outs in the fifth.

He then walked Akil Baddoo and Carson Kelly to load the bases, but retired Zach McKinstry on a flyout.

Espada said it wasn't a difficult decision to replace Blanco because of how many pitches he's thrown this year, noting that he's had four outings with more than 100 pitches and two with 98.

“But did I want him to be more efficient earlier and give him a shot? One hundred percent,” Espada said.

Blanco said he wasn't upset when Espada took him out.

“I threw a lot of pitches and I wasn’t going to be able to finish it,” he said. “So, I just accepted it.”

Blanco made a good defensive play for the second out of the sixth when he grabbed a comebacker hit by Matt Vierling. He then sat down Riley Greene on a popup.

Urshela reached with two outs in the seventh on a throwing error by third baseman Alex Bregman. Blanco then retired Baddoo on a fly ball that center fielder Jake Meyers caught on the warning track.

“We did battle,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We obviously couldn’t get anything started against him. The three walks, you have a chance with two outs, but he wiggles out of it. And then he just continued to hit spots and threw a lot of different pitches.”

After the hit by Pérez, Pressly sat down Vierling before Josh Hader took over for the ninth. Mark Canha singled with one out and scored on a double by pinch-hitter Andy Ibánez.

Urshela grounded out and Hader struck out pinch-hitter Jake Rogers to end it.

Detroit starter Kenta Maeda (2-3) permitted five hits and four runs in five innings.

Altuve hit a leadoff single before moving to second on a wild pitch with one out. The Astros took a 1-0 lead when he scored on a single by Yordan Alvarez.

Mauricio Dubón singled with one out in the second and Chas McCormick drew a two-out walk. Altuve made it 4-0 with his shot to center field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Espada said RHP Justin Verlander, who was scratched from Saturday’s start with neck discomfort, was feeling better Sunday and could start in the team’s next series against the Chicago White Sox. … RHP Luis Contreras was selected to the major league roster to take the place of RHP Nick Hernandez, who was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land Saturday night. To make room for Contreras on the 40-man roster, RHP Cristian Javier, who recently had Tommy John surgery, was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

UP NEXT

Tigers: RHP Reese Olson (1-8, 3.68 ERA) starts for Detroit against Braves LHP Max Fried (6-3, 3.20) in the opener of a three-games series at Atlanta Monday night.

Astros: Houston is off Monday before opening a three-game series at the White Sox Tuesday night. The Astros haven’t announced their starters for the series.

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