The Los Angeles Angels honored their late pitcher Tyler Skaggs in storybook fashion Friday night, delivering a no-hitter while smashing the Seattle Mariners, 13-0, in their first game at Angel Stadium since the 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas.
Pitchers Felix Pena and Taylor Cole combined to limit the Mariners to no hits and just one walk, with Cole starting the game and pitching two innings and Pena (7-2) completing the rare feat with seven innings of no-hit ball to get the win.
The night started on an emotional note with a highlight video of Skaggs’ MLB career, and a 45-second moment of silence. A framed No. 45 jersey was placed behind the mound by Angels star Mike Trout and Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney, Skaggs’ best friend.
Then Skaggs’ mother Debbie — who spent 28 seasons as softball coach at Santa Monica High School before retiring following the 2015 season so she could support his career with the Angels — prepared to throw the honorary first pitch. Standing on the mound a few feet away from Skaggs’ widow Carli, his stepbrother, Garret, and his stepfather, Dan Ramos, Debbie fired a perfect strike to Heaney.
The game’s result was never in doubt after the Angels scored seven runs in the first inning. Trout had a two-run home run and a bases-loaded double in the that inning alone.
After the final out was recorded on a ground ball to second base, the drama of the night brought out the emotions in the Angels and many others in the baseball community.
“What an unbelievable night. By far the most special game I have ever been apart of,” outfielder Kole Calhoun tweeted. “Still can not wrap my mind about the events tonight. So emotional and touching watching Debbie throw a strike right down the middle.”
“This is all for him,” Pena said on the field moments after the game. “I feel like we have an angel looking down on us.”
Angels manager Brad Ausmus said it was “one of the most special moments I’ve been a part of on a major league field in 25 years.”
“You feel like it’s partly Skaggsy’s no-hitter,” he said.
“Unreal.. what a night for the Angels,” Cincinnati Reds pitcher Cody Reed tweeted. “Imma tell you. Baseball Gods are, in fact, as real as it gets.”
“A no-no just hours before what would have been Tyler Skaggs’ 28th birthday. You can’t script this. For Tyler,” Major League Baseball tweeted, with a photo of the Angels’ many Skaggs jerseys arrayed on the pitching mound.
As noted in that last tweet, Saturday would have been Skaggs’ 28th birthday. He was found dead July 1 while the team was in Texas for a series against the Rangers. A cause of death has not yet been released, but police in Southlake said they did not suspect foul play or suicide.
“At this point, I don’t really care,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said before Friday’s game. “His loss is his loss, and there’s an emptiness regardless of the cause. I’m not in any rush to find out. All I know is Tyler Skaggs is no longer here. He had a lot of friends and family that cared about him a lot. The reason he died isn’t what hurts; the fact that he died is what hurts.”
Friday’s Angels victory was the 13th combined no-hitter in MLB history, and the first since the Los Angeles Dodgers did it on May 4, 2018 against the San Diego Padres in a game played in Monterrey, Mexico.
The last one to take place in the state of California was the Baltimore Orioles’ 2-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on July 13, 1991 – the day Skaggs was born.
It was the 11th no-hitter in Angels history and the first since Jered Weaver threw one in 2012.
The Angels also joined the Baltimore Orioles as the only teams to accomplish more than one combined no-hitter. The other Angels’ combined no-hitter was on April 11, 1990, also vs. Seattle, courtesy of pitchers Mark Langston (7 innings) and Mike Witt (2 innings).
The team will wear a No. 45 patch on their jerseys for the remainder of the season, and a picture of Skaggs placed on the outfield fence Friday will remain there for the remainder of the season.
Skaggs was one of the most popular players in the clubhouse and one of the Angels’ most reliable pitchers this season, going 7-7 with a 4.29 ERA in 79 2/3 innings across 15 starts. He was 28-38 with a 4.41 ERA during a seven-year career that was interrupted by the Tommy John surgery in 2014 and several other injuries.
Skaggs was a native of Woodland Hills and a graduate of Santa Monica High School. He was married in December. He and his wife had no children.