The 2019 MLB season brought us so many memorable moments like Ichiro’s last game or Justin Verlander’s third career no-hitter. But there is one moment that almost six months later still gives me chills.
On July 1, 2019, tragedy struck the baseball world when the news broke that Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had been found dead in his hotel room in Texas at the age of 27. No cause of death was initially given. The autopsy revealed that Skaggs had alcohol, fentanyl, and oxycodone in his system at the time of his death.
News spread around the league with players and teams paying their respects to the late pitcher. Patrick Corbin, a starter for the Washington Nationals, was very close with Tyler as they were both drafted by the Angels before being traded to the Diamondbacks. Corbin, who normally wore number 46, donned Skaggs’ number 45 in his honor.
The day after his death, the Angels played their first game against the Texas Rangers. A moment of silence was held prior to the game. Tyler’s teammates held his jersey in their hand. The Angels did not return home to play after Tyler’s death until after the All-Star break.
On July 12, the Los Angeles Angels took the field at home against the Seattle Mariners. Every player wore Tyler’s name and number on the back of their jersey. The number 45 was also placed on the pitcher’s mound and a forty-five second moment of silence was held prior to the game. Tyler’s mother threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Andrew Heaney, one of Skaggs’ teammates and best friends.
The Angels did not take long to get on the board, scoring seven runs in the first inning, highlighted by a two-run homer by Mike Trout. The Angels added two more in the second inning as well as four more coming in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. The Angels scored a total of 13 runs.
Taylor Cole started the game for the Angels. He was removed after two perfect innings and was replaced by Felix Peña. Peña pitched the next six innings, struck out six, walked one, and gave up no hits.
Peña and the Angels took a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Mac Williamson led off for the Mariners. He flew out on the first pitch. Dee Gordon was the next batter and he grounded out on an 0-1 pitch. On the final out, Mallex Smith stepped in and took the first pitch for a ball. He grounded the following pitch to second base and the Angeles completed the no-hitter, for Tyler.
Angels players stormed the field as the crowd cheered, leaving almost no dry eyes in the stadium as the Angels honored their late teammate with a no-hitter, one day before his 28th birthday. Following their celebration, the players removed their jerseys and placed them on the pitcher’s mound.
The fact that they accomplished this feat is incredible considering the circumstances. In the first inning, Mike Trout hit a home run that traveled 454 feet: Skaggs wore the number 45. The Angels scored a total of 13 runs: Skaggs was born on the 13th of July. The no-hitter marked the 11th in franchise history for the Angels: Skaggs wore number 11 in high school.
Possibly the most chilling, however, was that the Angels threw a combined no-hitter: the last time a combined no-hitter was thrown in the state of California was July 13th, 1991, the day Tyler Skaggs was born.