ANAHEIM, Calif.– The Los Angeles Angels all put on Tyler Skaggs' No. 45 jerseys and stood solemnly on the field while his mother, Debbie, delivered a heartbreakingly perfect strike on the first pitch.
The Angels then proceeded to play their heavy hearts out in their first home game since their beloved pitcher's death.
Two Angels pitchers combined to throw the 11th no-hitter in franchise history, and Mike Trout drove in six runs in a stunning 13-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
On the day before what would have been Skaggs' 28th birthday, these astonishing Angels played a practically perfect game with his memory in their minds.
“Tonight was in honor of him,” Trout said. “He was definitely looking over us tonight. He's probably up there saying we're nasty. What an unbelievable game to be a part of. I'm speechless. This is the best way possible to honor him tonight. It was pretty crazy.”
This tribute ended up exceeding all logic and expectation. Still reeling from the loss of their left-handed starter early last week in Texas, the Angels somehow excelled in every aspect of the game while wearing replicas of Skaggs' red jersey.
The Angels scored seven runs on eight hits in the first inning alone, with Trout delivering a two-run homer and a two-run double. Taylor Cole opened with two perfect innings before Félix Peña came on for seven more, allowing only a fifth-inning walk in the performance of his life.
After the final out, the Angels celebrated on the field before pulling off their No. 45 jerseys and laying them all on the mound. They stood in a reverential circle around the shirts, which nearly covered every inch of the dirt.
“He's the life of the team, honestly,” said infielder Zack Cozart, Skaggs' teammate for the past two seasons. “We're family in here. We're around each other all day, every day. You just hurt so much for Tyler's family. ... It's so sudden and so tragic. Forty-five will always be in my mind. That's how it's always going to be for all of us.”
During a poignant pregame ceremony, both teams lined the basepaths as Skaggs' family took the mound led by Debbie Skaggs, the longtime softball coach at Santa Monica High School.
Debbie Skaggs threw a brisk strike to Andrew Heaney, Skaggs' best friend and fellow Angels rotation member.
The Angels then battered Seattle starter Mike Leake in a surreal seven-run, eight-hit first inning highlighted by Trout, who has been relentless at the plate ever since Skaggs' death.
Trout crushed a 454-foot, two-run homer to left-center on the first pitch he saw from Leake. The two-time AL MVP appeared to look toward Skaggs' family in the stands as he crossed the plate after an unusually long home run trot.
Cole also opened flawlessly on the mound. The reliever pounded his chest and pointed at the sky when Kole Calhoun caught the final out of the second.