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Angels toss combined no-hitter against Mariners

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The Angels honored late teammate Tyler Skaggs on Friday night, donning no. 45 jerseys and running a special video tribute to Skaggs prior to the game. Then, during a terrific 13-0 rout of the visiting Mariners, they did something even better to honor him: they threw a combined no-hitter.

Rookie right-hander Taylor Cole led the charge, hurling two perfect innings as an opener for fellow righty Félix Peña. Peña stepped in to replace Cole at the top of the third inning and extended the perfecto into the fifth, when he subsequently lost it on a four-pitch walk to Omar Narváez.

Behind Cole and Peña, the Angels lifted the pitching staff to an unbeatable 13-run lead. In an explosive seven-run first inning, Mike Trout was the first to strike, pouncing on a first-pitch sinker from Mike Leake and returning it to center field for a two-run homer — his 29th of the year.

The home run was followed by a smattering of runs from Andrelton Simmons, Justin Bour, and Dustin Garneau. Trout returned to drive in another two runs on an RBI double, giving the Mariners a substantial seven-run debt to work their way back from. Over the next six innings, Trout accounted for another two runs on a hit-by-pitch and double, while Justin Upton capped the 13-run spread in the seventh with a 388-foot two-RBI blast off of Seattle reliever Parker Markel.

Peña returned in the ninth to finish the no-hitter with just 76 pitches under his belt. He needed just five more pitches to do so, inducing a first-pitch flyout from Mac Williamson and back-to-back two-pitch groundouts from Dee Gordon and Mallex Smith.

The no-hitter is the first in Angels’ history since 2012, when Jered Weaver blanked the Twins 9-0 in May of that season. Coincidentally, 2012 was also the last year the Mariners found themselves on the losing end of a no-no, as then-White Sox starter Philip Humber had completed his first and only perfect game in Seattle the month before.

More than a special franchise moment, however, was the loving way the Angels paid homage to Skaggs throughout the night. Following Cole and Peña’s triumph, the team laid their no. 45 jerseys on the mound in Skaggs’ honor — a moment that most are calling ‘bigger than baseball,’ and rightfully so.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.