Angels still in disbelief day after emotional no-no

July 14th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- A day after and combined to turn in an unbelievable no-hitter while the entire team wore the late Tyler Skaggs’ jersey on Friday, the Angels were still in disbelief on Saturday, which would’ve been Skaggs’ 28th birthday.

Angels players had a tough time wrapping their heads around an incredible day that began with a touching pregame ceremony that featured a 45-second moment of silence, a perfect strike thrown by Skaggs’ mother, Debbie, on a ceremonial first pitch, and ended with the 11th no-hitter in franchise history.

"I’m still feeling that same high from yesterday," Cole said. "It was just a special night, with Debbie throwing out the first pitch. It just felt like there was something special about the night. Who would have ever thought in their wildest dreams something like that would happen? It did. That’s what makes people watch sports. And what makes sports special."

Special was a word the Angels constantly used to describe a night that can be difficult to put into words given the emotions. It was the club’s first home game since Skaggs passed away on July 1, and according to the players who experienced it, there was something magical in the air at Angel Stadium.

“It still hasn’t hit me,” catcher Dustin Garneau said. “We understand we had a no-hitter and everything, but with how it went down and the day it went down, it still is like a scene out of a movie. Honestly, it was what we needed and hopefully what his family needed to where it kind of gives them some solace. For us it brought us all together. After the game we were all sitting at our lockers and were still in shock.”

After the 13-0 win, Angels players laid their No. 45 Skaggs jerseys down on the mound in a fitting tribute. And as they went back into the clubhouse they played music and yelled, “We’re Nasty,” which is a slogan that Skaggs used to describe the team after wins. Angels players and staff were greeted with new red “We’re Nasty” t-shirts at their lockers on Saturday that also featured No. 45 on the back.

“I’ll never forget something like that,” Garneau said. “To be around the mound and everyone joining in the moment, I won’t forget.”

Angels manager Brad Ausmus said he was overwhelmed by the amount of texts and emails he received after the game. He made it a point to say it was a three-pitcher no-hitter, as he believes it wasn’t just Cole and Pena out there, as they had Skaggs’ spirit with them. He’s hopeful the no-hitter will help rally the team together in the second half, but noted it’s hard to know what will happen going forward.

“I think it is therapeutic,” Ausmus said. “It throws a silver lining around a very dark cloud. But I don’t know how it plays out from here. It’s a silver lining but it’s also emotionally draining. If you’re emotionally drained, I don’t know what effect that has long term. But it was certainly a great night last night. A great win to honor Skaggs. We’ll see what happens.”

Ausmus, though, was amazed by some of the numbers in the game, especially ones that correlated with Skaggs’ No. 45 Angels jersey, his date of birth and even his No. 11 jersey at Santa Monica High School. For instance, Mike Trout’s first inning homer went 454 feet with an exit velocity of 111 feet. Trout also has reached base safely 45 percent of the time over his last 45 games.

The last combined no-hitter in the state of California came on July 13, 1991, the day Skaggs was born. And this was the 11th no-hitter in franchise history. The Angels scored seven runs in the first inning and had 13 hits, which relates to Skaggs' birthday on 7/13. The only inning the Mariners sent four batters to the plate was the fifth.

"I’ve seen all the numbers that surrounded the game, some of them I clearly was not aware of until I was watching the highlights last night," Ausmus said. "Last combined no-hitter in California was his birthday, 7/13. A handful of other ones. It’s pretty remarkable. You don’t know if you really could even script it. You’d have to have a wild imagination to script that."

The Angels kept the ball from the last out and placed it in Skaggs’ locker, which will be kept throughout the season at Angel Stadium. The players were also given their Skaggs jerseys as keepsakes after the game.

“It’s beyond what you can ever write up or think about,” Cole said. “It’s the single greatest moment I’ve ever had on a baseball field, and I’ve been playing since I was a little kid. It goes beyond just winning the baseball game. It goes beyond all that. When you can comfort and help people heal, and help people realize that there is something more to this than baseball, everybody is going to be OK. Tyler is going to be looking down on us and he’ll be here for us and with us for a long time. Forever really. Nothing gets better than that.”