BLANCO EJECTED

Astros starter Ronel Blanco ejected in fourth inning after foreign substance check

Astros Ronel Blanco
Blanco denied using an illegal substance. Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images.

Astros starter Ronel Blanco was ejected at the start of the fourth inning of a 2-1 win over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night after umpires found a foreign substance that first base umpire Erich Bacchus said was “the stickiest stuff I've felt on a glove.”

Third base umpire Laz Diaz ejected Blanco after a check of his glove before he threw a pitch in the fourth inning. The umpires, Blanco and Houston manager Joe Espada stood at the mound for a couple of minutes discussing the issue before the right-hander was ejected.

Blanco's glove was confiscated and Bacchus ran off the field with it and took it somewhere before returning. Diaz, who was the crew chief Tuesday, said it was being sent to the commissioner's office.

Bacchus said there was nothing on Blanco's glove when he checked it in the middle of the first, but he discovered it when he did his second check before the fourth.

“I felt something inside the glove,” Bacchus said. “It was the stickiest stuff I’ve felt on a glove since we’ve been doing this for a few years now.”

After Bacchus discovered the substance he called the rest of the crew in to confer.

“Everybody checked the glove to make sure we all had the same thing and he had to get ejected because he had a foreign substance on his glove,” Diaz said.

Diaz said they didn't know what the substance was.

“We don’t determine that,” he said. “We just felt it was sticky, sticky enough that our fingers got stuck. So now it’s all up to the office on what it was and all that.”

Blanco denied using an illegal substance.

“Just probably rosin I put on my left arm,” he said in Spanish through a translator. “Maybe because of the sweat it got into the glove and that’s maybe what they found.”

Espada added that when he went to the mound he saw “white powder” inside Blanco's glove.

“It looked to me when I grabbed the glove (that) there was some rosin,” Espada said. “You’re not allowed to use rosin on your non-pitching hand and that’s what it looked like to me. It was a little bit sticky with the moisture and the sweat but that’s what it looked like to me.”

Blanco held out his hands and patted them together in front of the umpires while they inspected his glove before he was ejected, and he did the motion again after he was tossed.

“What I told them is: ‘If you found something sticky in my glove you should also check my hands because it should also be on my hand,’” Blanco said. “'Just check my hand,' and he didn’t.”

Blanco, who threw a no-hitter in his season debut, allowed four hits and struck out one in three scoreless innings Tuesday. He has a 2.09 ERA this season. The Astros led 1-0 when he was replaced by Tayler Scott.

MLB began cracking down on foreign substances in June 2021, and Blanco will likely face a 10-game suspension for the infraction.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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