Just two days after the Angels pulled off an emotional combined no-hitter against the Mariners, the Rays started working on their own combined no-no. During Sunday’s series finale against the Orioles, right-hander and ‘opener’ Ryne Stanek and lefty Ryan Yarbrough tossed eight perfect innings.
Stanek took the mound for the first two innings, issuing back-to-back strikeouts to Jonathan Villar and Anthony Santander to kick off the first. He induced three straight outs in the second before handing the ball off to Yarbrough in the third, who maintained the perfecto through the next six innings with five strikeouts and 76 pitches.
Behind Stanek and Yarbrough, the Rays’ offense mustered up four runs of support following Joey Wendle‘s sacrifice fly in the second, Austin Meadow’s solo shot in the third, and a two-run bomb from Michael Brosseau in the sixth.
In the ninth, just three outs away from making history, Yarbrough lost the perfecto—and the no-hitter. The first pitch he served up—an 85.4-m.p.h. cutter in the middle of the zone—was promptly delivered to right field by Hanser Alberto; then, to add insult to injury, Stevie Wilkerson laced his own first-pitch single off of Yarbrough in the next at-bat. Yarbrough followed up the back-to-back hits with a four-pitch strikeout to Chance Sisco, his sixth of the afternoon, but then made a hasty exit from the mound as Oliver Drake came in to pitch.
Had Stanek and Yarbrough completed the feat, they would have been the first pitchers to do so for the Rays since Matt Garza tossed a no-hitter against the Tigers in 2010. It would have also marked the first combined perfect game, both in franchise history and the history of Major League Baseball as well.
The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.
There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.
Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.
In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.