June 18, 2024

Ronel Blanco and the Houston Astros will play the host Oakland Athletics in the rubber match of their three-game series on Sunday afternoon, hoping to complete what he began in mid-May.

After the Astros swept a four-game home series against the A’s from May 13 to 16, the teams faced off on equal terms in Oakland this weekend, with the Astros winning 6-3 on Friday and the A’s winning 3-1 on Saturday.

Blanco played a minor role in the previous Astros sweep, shutting out the A’s on four hits over the first three innings of a 2-1 victory on May 14 in the series’ second game.

However, before reaching the dugout after the third inning, the right-hander passed an umpire’s check and was ejected for having a sticky material on his glove. He was subsequently suspended for ten days, which expired on Saturday.

Neither Blanco, who pitched a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in his season start on April 1, nor any other Astros player has confessed guilt in the incident.

 

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“Ronel sweats heavily. “It’s like a guy running up and down a basketball court,” general manager Dana Brown explained. “I believe it was a combination of rosin and sweat, and it is the umpire’s decision. He made the decision that it was a sticky substance, therefore we are at the mercy of (that).

“From our perspective, we feel like this is a guy who sweats a ton, and when you combine the sweat and the rosin, we feel like maybe that’s what they felt was sticky.”

Blanco later admitted he was unaware that Major League Baseball rules prevent pitchers from wearing rosin on their non-throwing hands.

“We’ll make sure that we go over it again with everybody,” Houston manager Joe Espada said.

Blanco (4-0, 2.09 ERA) was off to an All-Star-caliber start until his suspension. The 30-year-old right-hander has not allowed more than three runs in any of his eight outings, resulting in seven Astros victories.

He may expect a different appearance from the A’s this time. Last week, the club promoted outfielders Daz Cameron and Miguel Andujar from Triple-A, and both have made positive contributions.

Cameron, who blasted a game-tying home run in his A’s debut Thursday against the Colorado Rockies, drove in Oakland’s third run on Saturday with a single. Andujar, who did not play in Saturday’s 3-1 victory, had three hits and two RBIs in his debut game with Oakland on Friday.

“Big hit for Cameron,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay commented later. “This is a youngster that joined with us to have a chance to make the big leagues, and we like what we see. He has played in two games and made an impression.”

Aaron Brooks (0-1, 4.15 ERA), another current A’s player who began the season in Triple-A, will make his third start for the parent club in the season’s finale.

The 34-year-old has pitched 13 innings for the Athletics in his two starts, allowing only three runs. His big-league debut occurred on May 15 in a 3-0 loss to Houston, as he allowed all three runs on seven hits in seven innings.

Brooks has had six career starts versus the Astros, going 0-5 with a 7.09 ERA.

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