ANAHEIM, Calif. — Everything about the night was perfect, from the emotional opening pitch to the final out, a no-hitter in the rarest of ways for the Los Angeles Angels in this weekend's win.
Everything, that is, except for the reason the Halos were pouring out their hearts — and bats — in tribute, the passing of a teammate, the death of a young baseball star gone too soon.
For Tyler. pic.twitter.com/MczHyHQxu5— MLB (@MLB) July 13, 2019
A day before what would’ve been his 28th birthday, Tyler Skaggs' Los Angeles teammates put in a performance for the ages.
Former BYU pitcher Taylor Cole combined with Felix Pena on a no-hitter, and Mike Trout rocked six RBIs, including a 450-foot homer on the first pitch he saw, to lift the Angels to a 13-0 win Friday over the Seattle Mariners at Angels Stadium.
It was just the second combined no-hitter in Angels history and the first since 1990.
"I know he's here today, and he was looking over us, and he’s definitely a part of this," said Cole, who started the year with Triple-A Salt Lake. "We love him, we miss him, and we’re always going to be there for him."
The night started as a tribute to Skaggs, who died July 1 in Texas after he was found unresponsive in his hotel room. Every player wore Skaggs' No. 45 uniform Friday in the first home game since the tragic events that postponed that game. The Halos also invited Skaggs' mother Debbie — a longtime high school softball coach — to throw out the first pitch.
The ball soared through the air, down the chute, and landed in the glove of teammate Andrew Heaney, one of Skaggs' closest friends on the team.
Tyler Skagg's mother, Debbie Skaggs, throws the first pitch in tonight's home game. The first game back in Anaheim since the loss of Tyler. #45— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) July 13, 2019
"If anybody had any question of where Skaggs got his ability to throw off the mound, it's pretty evident tonight," Heaney told reporters after the game. "She put it right down the middle."
Skaggs touched every player in the Angels' clubhouse, and it extended across the organization’s farm system, too. He made 11 starts for the Salt Lake Bees between 2014, 2016 and 2017. The Bees debuted a patch for Skaggs on their uniforms this week, and many of the players on Salt Lake's current roster have spent time in the major leagues with Skaggs.
"He was energetic, positive — he’d just light up a room," Bees outfielder Michael Hermosillo told KSL.com.
The Angels unveiled a mural of Skaggs on the centerfield wall next to a No. 45 decal that resembles a patch they wore on their uniforms Friday night. During the game, the players were just as dialed in. One walk away from a perfect game, Cole had two strikeouts while Pena did the bulk of the pitching. He fanned six more Mariners batters.
The closest the Mariners got to a hit was Mac Williamson's grounder in the sixth, but Angels third baseman Matt Thaiss — recently called up from Salt Lake — made the diving stop to keep the bases empty.
It was a perfect tribute on a perfect night if only for the most imperfect of reasons — celebrating a life lost at such a young age that has rocked the baseball community.
"You can't make this stuff up," said Trout, who spent time with the Salt Lake Bees in 2012. "We scored seven runs in the first, ended with 13; Tyler's birthday is 7-13 … Tonight was to honor him. He’s definitely looking up to us tonight."