The Angels paid tribute to the late Tyler Skaggs in Friday nights game by donning the late Skaggs’ number and holding a ceremony to honor Skaggs prior to the game, little did anyone in attendance or watching at home know, a night of miraculous proportions.
The ceremony began with the team all lining up on the foul line and after a minute long video paying tribute to Skaggs, a 45-second moment of silence was held in his honor.
Starting pitcher Andrew Heaney and superstar centerfielder Mike Trout placed a framed jersey on an easel behind the pitcher’s mound, which had “45” outlined in chalk.
Then, Skaggs’ mother, Debbie, a longtime high school softball coach who in many ways inspired Tyler’s love of the game of baseball, threw out the first pitch to Andrew Heaney. The pitch was a perfect strike right down the middle, and that emotional first pitch by a heartbroken mother would set the tone for the rest of the night for the Angels. Following the pitch, she took five steps forward to the front of the mound, clasped her hands together, and looked up at the sky.
Following the pitch, Debbie Skaggs said, “I hope I make him proud.”
“Tonight’s about him,” Angels infielder Zack Cozart said prior to the night’s action. “We’re going to do what we can to honor him and keep his legacy going.”
“He’s the life of the team, honestly,” infielder Zack Cozart said. “We’re family in here. We’re around each other all day, every day. You just hurt so much for Tyler’s family. … It’s so sudden and so tragic. Forty-five (Skaggs’ jersey number) will always be in my mind. That’s how it’s always going to be for all of us.”
“He became the ace of the staff,” said Angels broadcaster Mark Gubicza who had developed a close relationship with Skaggs. “He’d really figured out how to pitch.”
“He was in the prime of his life and the prime of his career — it’s very tough,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “I walked into the ballpark today and saw the flowers and signs out front and that was special. I went for a run on the field and saw Tyler’s picture on the board. It brings back some emotion.”
“He’s part of the team even though he’s not here,” Ausmus said.
Opener Taylor Cole opened the action for the Angels with two hitless innings on the bump before being pulled in favor of pitcher Felix Pena who would be lights out until the game’s end.
The offense would go off tonight with Mike Trout setting the tone in the first inning with a two-run blast on the first pitch he saw in the game. The home run went an estimated 454 feet with the blast being his fourth home run of the season of at least 450 feet while he was wearing Skaggs’ No. 45. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Trout would go on to finish the game 3-4 with a homer, two doubles, a hit by pitch, a walk, and six runs batted in.
After the blast, the Angels tacked on five more runs in the bottom of the first and scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Just like that, the Halos had a 9-0 lead over the Seattle Mariners. The Angels would score a run in the fifth, sixth, and a Justin Upton homer two-run blast in the seventh would cap off the Angels’ scoring for the night. The score was 13-0 going into the eighth, but that was not the biggest story of the night.
Felix Pena had yet to surrender a hit (while allowing a lone walk in the fifth) and after a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth, Pena was three outs away from a no-hitter.
On the first pitch of the ninth inning, left fielder Mac Williamson hit a fly ball to right center field that was easily put away by Mike Trout. Pena then had to face speedster Dee Gordon who on an 0-1 count, hit a weak chopper back to Pena who threw to first to record the second out of the inning. Needing one more out, Pena faced leadoff hitter Mallex Smith. On a 1-0 count, Smith hit a hard ground ball to Luis Reginfo who knocked it down, picked it up, and threw Smith out to end the no-hitter.
After the no-hitter was complete, the whole team took off their jerseys and set them all on the mound in one last act to honor their late teammate. It was clear who the focus of the night was and it certainly wasn’t any of the players on the field.
“For sure I felt him,” Peña said of Skaggs after the game. “Every time I was on the mound, I was trying to remember the words he said to me: ‘Focus, focus.'”
“You can’t make this up,” Trout told Fox Sports. “This is incredible. We obviously loved him, and it’s a very emotional night for all of us.”
“That was one of the most special moments I have been a part of on a major league field,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “Just the way the game went and culminating with a no-hitter. You feel like it’s partly Skaggy’s no-hitter.”