On Friday night, the Los Angeles Angels made their first return to Angel Stadium in Anaheim since the death of Tyler Skaggs on July 1. As such, the team paid tribute to their late starting pitcher before they threw a combined no-hitter against the visiting Seattle Mariners, with his mother throwing a perfect strike on the ceremonial first pitch.
As reported by MLB.com, the tribute to Skaggs saw Angels center fielder Mike Trout and pitcher Andrew Heaney carry his framed No. 45 jersey to the mound, as everyone on the Angels also wore his name and number on their uniforms to honor their late teammate. With Skaggs’ wife, stepbrother, and stepfather also on the mound, his mother, Debbie, threw the ceremonial first pitch to Heaney — an “absolute perfect pitch,” as pitcher Taylor Cole described it.
“It couldn’t have been better,” Cole said. “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.”
As for the game itself, the Angels won in convincing fashion, defeating the Mariners, 13-0. Trout got Los Angeles off to a hot start with a two-run home run and a two-run double off Seattle pitcher Mike Leake, giving the Angels a 7-0 lead in the first inning. With the Angels comfortably ahead, Cole and Felix Pena combined to give the team their 11th no-hitter in the franchise’s history.
The story will give you chills.— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 13, 2019
• Tyler Skaggs’ mother throws first pitch
(Angels throw no-hitter)
• Trout hits HR exactly 454 ft
(Skaggs wore No. 45)
• Franchise’s 11th no-hitter
(Skaggs wore No. 11 in HS)
• Score 7 runs in 1st, 13 runs total
(Skaggs birthday is 7/13) pic.twitter.com/d5tb0yH5hD
After the game, Heaney described the big win over the Mariners as “therapeutic,” as the Angels freely celebrated their victory just three hours after their emotional tribute to Skaggs. The pitcher admitted that he became tearful during the tribute as he thought about his friend and teammate’s passing, but added that Friday night’s win could hopefully “change [the team’s] mindset” and help him and his teammates focus on positive memories instead.
“For sure, [Skaggs] was looking down on us,” Trout told MLB Network, as quoted by USA Today. “He’s up there smiling. We’re going to keep playing for him the rest of the season and the rest of my career.”
The tribute to Tyler Skaggs also featured a video that included highlights of his career, as well as a 45-second moment of silence as both teams stood on the foul lines before the game. Aside from the No. 45 being prominently displayed throughout Angel Stadium, fans celebrated Skaggs’ life through a memorial near the home-plate entrance that featured photos of the pitcher, Angels hats, flowers, and notes.
Per MLB.com, the Skaggs memorial was notably located near the one created for another Angels pitcher who passed away at a young age — Nick Adenhart, who was only 23-years-old when he died in a car accident in 2009.
As noted by CNN, Skaggs was just 12 days shy of his 28th birthday when he was found dead on July 1 in a Texas hotel room, shortly before the Angels’ scheduled game against the Texas Rangers. His cause of death remains unclear as of this writing.