Before playing their first game in Anaheim since the July 1 death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, the Angels lined up along the third-base line Friday night, all wearing their teammates’ uniform number, to watch his mother throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Debbie Skaggs darted her offering to where the middle of the strike zone would have been. Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney then met her between the plate and the mound for a hug. Heaney, who had tears in his eyes during the embrace, has called Tyler Skaggs his best friend.
An emotional seven-run first inning for the Angels followed against the Mariners. Mike Trout hit a 454-foot home run on the first pitch he saw. Later in the frame, he doubled in two more runners.
Angels players had said before the game they were keeping Skaggs at the front of their minds while competing.
“Tonight is about him,” infielder Zack Cozart told reporters. “We’re going to do what we can to honor him and keep his legacy going.”
In addition to the players wearing Skaggs’ number Friday, the Angels unveiled a Skaggs graphic on the outfield wall that will remain there for the remainder of the season. They’ll also wear jersey patches with No. 45 the rest of the year.
Heaney remembered Skaggs last week in Houston when he threw a slow curveball on his first pitch of the game. Skaggs’ curveball was his best-known pitch.