In no-hitter, Angels found many ways to honor Tyler Skaggs

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It’s been an emotional two weeks for the Angels following the tragic death of 27-year-old Tyler Skaggs on July 1. They returned to Angel Stadium for their first home game of the month on Friday and promptly tossed a jaw-dropping 13-0 no-hitter, led by the combined efforts of rookie ‘opener’ Taylor Cole and righty Félix Peña.

Prior to the game’s triumphant conclusion, however, the Angels paid special homage to the late pitcher. Skaggs’ mother, Debbie, delivered the ceremonial first pitch to Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney—throwing a picture-perfect strike down the middle that, as Cole put it, set the tone for the rest of the night.

“It all started with Debbie,” Cole told reporters after the game. “She threw it right down the middle … couldn’t have started it with a better pitch.”

The team also held a moment of silence for Skaggs and played a video tribute. Around the ballpark, evidence of Skaggs’ legacy was clear. Outside the entrance, fans left flowers, candles, caps, and team memorabilia in a makeshift memorial. On the field, Skaggs’ jersey hung in the dugout, and a portrait of the young pitcher and a large no. 45 patch—the same design as the one they’ll wear on all uniforms for the rest of the 2019 season—were painted on the center field fence. In the clubhouse, as they’ve done on the road, the Angels maintained Skaggs’ locker.

In the moments after Peña delivered his 81st pitch of the night, a 1-0 fastball that the Mariners’ Mallex Smith returned to second base for a game-ending groundout, the Angels rallied together to honor their teammate once more. They removed the no. 45 jerseys they had each donned at the start of the game and placed them on the mound.

“He’s probably up there saying we’re ‘nasty,’” Mike Trout said in the postgame presser. “What an unbelievable game to be a part of. I’m speechless. This is the best way possible to honor him tonight.”

For others, the win felt therapeutic. “Everybody after the game, we’re running out on the field and everybody’s celebrating,” Heaney said in a quote captured by MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. “Three hours earlier, and I don’t know about anybody else, but I had tears in my eyes. You’re sort of reliving your bad memories, bad thoughts. Just for tonight and maybe moving forward, you kind of change your mindset from when you think about him. You’re thinking about the loss of a friend, of a teammate, whatever it may be. But moving forward, hopefully it can be a little bit more of when you think of him, you think of his jersey, you think of his name, it brings back positive memories.”

It wasn’t just that the no-hitter was tossed in their first home game since Skaggs’ death, or that the feat was completed on a night that already evoked such strong emotions from both the team and the crowd. It was also the fact that they pulled it off just 1.5 hours before Skaggs’ 28th birthday, scoring seven runs in the first inning and 13 runs total in the league’s 13th combined no-no to date. And the fact that, as Cole and Peña worked in tandem to build nine pristine innings against Seattle, they became the first pitchers to toss a combined no-hitter in California since July 13, 1991… the very day Skaggs was born.

Zack Britton’s season over, TJ surgery comeback out of time

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Zack Britton‘s season is over, his comeback from Tommy John surgery cut short after just three relief appearances for the New York Yankees.

New York put the 34-year-old left-hander on the 60-day injured list and selected the contract of right-hander Jacob Barnes from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Britton was removed after throwing a tiebreaking wild pitch in a 2-1 loss to Baltimore, an outing that lasted just nine pitches. The two-time All-Star had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 8, 2021, and made eight minor league injury rehabilitation appearances starting Aug. 24 and three big league appearances beginning Sept. 24. He threw 36 pitches to nine batters with a 13.50 ERA, six walks and one strikeout.

“Kind of running out of time here and having a little bit of fatigue last night, it’s like one of those things, you don’t want to power through that and reach for more and then do some damage as you’re coming back,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s in a good spot heading into the offseason.”

Britton had hoped to be able to help the Yankees in the postseason. He is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

“It’s just that final sharpness,” Boone said. “At this point in the season, just kind of up against it there. But he worked his tail off to put himself in this position and give himself an opportunity and certainly admire that.”

Barnes, 32, started the season with Detroit and was released on June 18 after going 3-1 with a 6.10 ERA in 22 relief appearances. He struck out 10 and walked nine in 20 2/3 innings.

Barnes signed a minor league contract with Seattle, made four relief appearances for Triple-A Tacoma, then was brought up by the Mariners and designated for assignment two days later without playing in a game. He refused an outright assignment, signed back with the Tigers and made five appearances at Triple-A Toledo. Released by the Mud Hens, he signed with Scranton on Aug. 30 and had a 2.25 ERA in 10 games for the RailRiders.

Boone said reliever Clay Holmes will not go on the IL after receiving a cortisone injection for inflammation in his right rotator cuff. If the Yankees had put Holmes on the IL, he would not be available for the Division Series.

After playing his first game since Sept. 4 and going 0 for 3, DJ LeMahieu said his injured right second toe felt fine. He is in a 2-for-41 slide.

“It felt good to play again,” LeMahieu said. “I felt like a baseball player.”

Matt Carpenter, sidelined since breaking his left toot on Aug. 8, ran on the field and will be among players reporting to training camp for Double-A Somerset, where there will be eight or nine pitchers. Boone anticipates Carpenter being available for the postseason as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter.

Right-hander Frankie Montas, sidelined since Sept. 16 by inflammation in his pitching shoulder, has resumed throwing.

“I don’t know about the Division Series,” Boone said, “more likely beyond.”