Angels’ tribute to Skaggs truly something special

Members of the Los Angeles Angels place their jerseys with No. 45 in honor of pitcher Tyler Skaggs on the mound after a combined no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game Friday in Anaheim, Calif. The Angels won 13-0.

I had planned on writing about Bud Selig and his new book this week, but then something unfolded that prompted me to change course. I decided I couldn’t write about Bud Selig after what I’d just seen.

Everything that happened Friday night in Anaheim, Calif., was magical. Storybook. Hollywood couldn’t have written a more perfect script in the Los Angeles Angels’ celebration of and tribute to fallen teammate Tyler Skaggs.

The 27-year-old pitcher died unexpectedly on July 1 and this was L.A.’s first home game at Angel Stadium since his passing.

It began with a pregame ceremony honoring Skaggs and his family, including his mother Debbie, who took her son’s place on the mound and delivered a perfect strike on the ceremonial first pitch.

She was wearing Tyler’s No. 45 jersey, as was every other Angel that night.

Mike Trout, Skaggs’ close friend, is no stranger to monster games at the plate, but this one was special for the two-time former AL MVP. Trout stepped to the plate and crushed the first pitch he saw from the Seattle Mariners over the right-center field wall.

The official distance on his moon shot was a very Skaggsian 454 feet. Trout finished the night 3-for-4 with six RBIs.

The best was yet to come. Taylor Cole started on the mound for the Angels and threw two perfect innings before giving way to Felix Pena. Pena then allowed just one walk the rest of the game as he paired with Cole to record only the second combined no-hitter in team history.

“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. “Just the way the game went, and culminating with a no-hitter. You feel like it’s partly Skaggy’s no-hitter.”

Oh, and by the way, according to STATS the last combined no-hitter in the state of California was thrown in Oakland on July 13, 1991 — the day Tyler Skaggs was born.

There’s more. Friday night the Angels scored seven runs in the first inning and finished with 13 — 7/13, Skaggs’ birthday. Are you getting chills yet?

Afterward, the players all removed their jerseys and placed them on the mound in one final salute to their teammate.

The Angels have been here before. They’re just a decade removed from the untimely loss of another young pitcher, Nick Adenhart, who died in a car crash.

That’s more grief and loss than any one organization should have to bear, but the Angels should look back on that night with great pride. These days it’s easy to get cynical about professional sports, but the game is still capable of producing those moments of pure goodness that reduce you to a puddle of tears and make you just say, “Wow.”

This was one of those moments. What happened at Angel Stadium on Friday night was truly special.

o

Mike Hautamaki can be reached at hauts81@hotmail.com.

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