Posted on July 13, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Los Angeles Angels Tyler Skaggs
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The Los Angeles Angels are a team in mourning following the sudden death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs earlier this month. But Friday night they found the perfect way to honor their fallen teammate. Pitchers Taylor Cole and Felix Pena combined to throw a no-hitter in a 13-0 over the Mariners.

It came in the team’s first home game since Skaggs passed away. It came on a night in which the team honored Skaggs by wearing his no. 45 on the back of every jersey. It also came the day before Skaggs would have turned 28. The whole thing was the perfect way to honor Skaggs and almost too good to be true.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” an emotional Mike Trout said after the game. “I’m speechless. This is the best way to honor him.”

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The night began with Skaggs’ mom, Debbie, throwing out the first pitch. She was joined on the mound by Skaggs’ wife, brother, and step-father. After writing her son’s initials into the dirt on the back of the mound, Debbie threw a perfect strike from the top of the mound to Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney, a pitch that would ultimately set the stage for the rest of the night.

“It was unbelievable,” Cole said. “She went out there and threw an absolute perfect pitch. It couldn’t have been better. No matter how great of an effort or how great of an athlete she is. I heard she even used to catch Tyler’s bullpens. She was a great athlete but she threw a great pitch. It was really cool to see his family before the game. It set the tone for the rest of the way.”

Prior to the game, both teams honored Skaggs with a 45-second moment of silence. Soon after, Trout got the scoring started with a 454-foot home run that sparked a 7-run first inning. The Angels would go on to score 13 runs on 13 hits. Trout, who was drafted by the Angels in 2009, the same year as Skaggs, finished the game with six RBIs to lead the Los Angeles lineup.

With Trout and company taking care of the run support, Cole and Pena got the job done on the mound. Cole opened the game with two perfect innings and Pena took it the rest of the way, tossing seven no-hit innings. A walk in the fifth inning to Seattle catcher Omar Narvaez was the only blemish for either pitcher in what was nearly a perfect game for the Angels in more ways than one.

“That was one of the most special moments I have been a part of on a Major League field, 25 years,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said after the game. “Just the way the game went and culminating with a no-hitter. You feel like it’s partly Skaggy’s no-hitter.”

Needless to say, it was an emotional moment for the Angels after the game. Following the last out to complete the no-hitter, the Angels gathered around the mound, removed all of their no. 45 jerseys, and placed them around the mound. They also placed a painting of Skaggs that a fan had created.

“It was a great idea just to honor him one last time,” said Trout. “It was a special moment for all of us as a team. What this team’s been through, this is obviously the worst thing that can happen for a team. Emotionally the team came together.”

Even the Mariners acknowledged that something special had just happened at Angel Stadium. Mariners manager Scott Servais referenced the “baseball gods” playing a role in something far more meaningful than just another game or even just another no-hitter. For the Angels, it was a way to honor their teammate and a reason to smile amidst nearly two weeks of mourning the passing of Skaggs.

““It’s probably more just emotionally therapeutic,” said Heaney. “Everybody after the game, we’re running out on the field and everybody’s celebrating. Three hours earlier, and I don’t know about anybody else, but I had tears in my eyes. You’re sort of reliving your bad memories, bad thoughts. Just for tonight and maybe moving forward, you kind of change your mindset from when you think about him. You’re thinking about the loss of a friend, of a teammate, whatever it may be. But moving forward, hopefully it can be a little bit more of when you think of him, you think of his jersey, you think of his name, it brings back positive memories.”

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