Angels All-Time Lists

On a emotional night in Anaheim the LA Angels brought their “A” game to honor Tyler Skaggs

By David Rice
ANAHEIM, CA - Carli Skaggs sits with her husband's jersey not knowing what the next three hours would be like (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - Carli Skaggs sits with her husband's jersey not knowing what the next three hours would be like (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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You knew Friday night’s first home game since LA Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had passed away would be emotional.  However, no one could have imagined what transpire over the next 3 hours. It was heavenly.

Sitting watching the pre-game already had me in tears and that was even before the ceremony to honor Tyler Skaggs. Watching the way the LA Angels team greeted Tyler’s mom Debbie, brother Garrett, and wife Carli in the dugout was a picture of class, kindness, and compassion.  Everyone was hugging the trio including team owner Arte Moreno and his wife Carol.  My tear ducts were already flowing freely.

ANAHEIM, CA – JULY 12: Tyler Skaggs mother Debbie Hetman gets a hug from Mike Trout #45 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before throwing out the first pitch before playing the Seattle Marinersat Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California. All Angels players wore #45 to honor Tyler Skaggs who died on July 1. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA – JULY 12: Tyler Skaggs mother Debbie Hetman gets a hug from Mike Trout #45 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before throwing out the first pitch before playing the Seattle Marinersat Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California. All Angels players wore #45 to honor Tyler Skaggs who died on July 1. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

Then came the on-field ceremony where Tyler’s jersey was carried out, a 45-second silence to honor #45, and a video montage of some Tyler Skaggs best moments played on the scoreboard. This is not to mention that every player, coach, or anyone wearing a jersey donned a red Angel jersey with #45 Skaggs written on it.

Then it was time for the Skaggs family to come to the Angel Stadium mound where there was a big 45 printed on it.  Debbie Hetman (Skaggs) stepped on the mound and delivered a perfect strike to Tyler’s best friend and teammate Andrew Heaney and the two embraced in a huge hug. (Again my tear ducts were wide open).

https://twitter.com/foxsportswest/status/1149864198098210817?s=21

Finally at 7:18 P.M. Taylor Cole threw the first pitch of the game against the Mariners. Fittingly Cole struck out the Mariners Mallex Smith, who was the first batter. In the bottom of the first David Fletcher set the tone offensively lacing a Mike Leake pitch to right-center and hustling to second base for a lead-off double.  Up stepped one of the team’s leaders, Mike Trout.  In my heart I knew he was going to do something special and I even said it out loud although nobody was there to hear me. Mike Trout has a flair for the dramatic and is emerging as the team’s emotional leader both on and off the field.

On the first pitch from Trout launched an epic 454 foot home run to left-center and the Angels had their first two runs of the night and a 2-0 lead.  Again tears rolled down my cheek watching Trout as he rounded the bases looking and gesturing to the Angels wives and family section as if to say “That was for you Carli, Debbie, Garrett we’ve got you.”

https://twitter.com/foxsportswest/status/1149869337760505856?s=21

The Angels did not stop there scoring five more times as they batted around.  Trout came up with the bases loaded and laced a two-run double to left to make it 7-0 Angels.  The Angels would score two more runs in the second inning to extend their lead to 9-0.  Meanwhile Cole threw a perfect second inning as well, paving the way for Felix Pena.

Pena was as dominant as we have ever seen him and you know he had to have some Angel dust on his right wing, I mean arm.  Pena mowed through the Mariners in the third and fourth inning without any trouble In the 5th inning Pena got the first out, but then walked Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez, but would get the next two outs to keep the Mariners in check.

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In the bottom of the fifth David Fletcher, the ultimate table-setter on the night, reaching base four of six times, led off with a single and of course Trout did his job once again driving in Fletcher with an RBI-double and he now had six RBIs on the night and the Angels were up 10-0.

Leading off the 6th inning was the Mariners Mac Williamson. Williamson laced a ball between third and shortstop and the special pitching performance was in jeopardy.  Enter rookie Matt Thaiss, who only started playing third base this season, Thaiss made a diving play and got up and barely threw out Williamson at first to preserve the moment.

Two more strikeouts by Pena in the 7th and the possibility of a no-hitter became more real.  Justin Upton hit the second homer of the night for the Angels to give the Angels a Baker’s Dozen in runs scored at 13-0.  The rest of the drama on the night belonged to Pena.

In the eighth inning Pena made quick work of the Mariners to take the Angels three outs away from the no-no.  Williamson started off the ninth with a deep fly ball and it looked for a moment that the bubble would burst, but Trout tracked it down for the first out.  Dee Gordon who has tremendous sped hit a little dribbler to the right of the mound and Pena, looking more like “Felix the Cat” then a baseball pitcher pounced off the mound fielding the ball and firing to first to get Gordon by a step.

With the sellout crowd of 43,160 on their feet held their collective breaths as Pena delivered 81st and final pitch of the night which Mallex Smith grounded sharply to Luis Rengifo at second base. Rengifo fired to Justin Bour at first to retire Smith and set off a cathartic celebration on the field, in the stands, and in heaven (RIP#45). Again I went to tears and was saying the immortal words of late Cardinal announcer Jack Buck “I don’t believe what I just saw.”

The players streamed out of the dugout and converged on the mound as the cheers and cries of the fans came thundering down on them. Then in one special final gesture to their fallen teammate, each player and coach wearing the #45 Skaggs jersey took it off and laid it all around the mound and a picture of Skaggs was placed in the middle of the jersies. The whole team gathered and started clapping their hands in unison to again honor Skaggs for one last time on this magical night. (Cue the tear ducts).

In heaven I’m sure Tyler Skaggs, Nick Adenhart, Luis Valbuena, Donnie Moore, and Gene Autry were having one heavenly celebration watching their team pull off the improbable magical game of their lives.

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Fox Sports West’s Alex Curry then interviewed Taylor Cole and Felix Pena and at the end of the interview, Felix Pena spoke in English two simple words that summed up the whole night “We’re Nasty”.

Next. Angels start the second half by honoring the memory of Tyler Skaggs

On this night you and the Angels definitely were Felix and there could not have been a more special way to honor the memory of Tyler Skaggs. #RIP#45 you, Debbie, Carli, and Garrett are forever in our hearts.  Thank you to all of the #45’s tonight this game was one that the 43,160 fans in attendance and the millions more watching on TV will not forget.

(Special thanks to Fox Sports West, the Angels, and MLB Network for the footage of this amazing evening).

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