There is no human emotion quite like loss. It feeds on your every waking moment, gnaws at your senses and dulls every aspect of your life. The void inside of you deepens and widens swallowing everything in its path. It’s a darkness that envelops every light that tries to shine, heal or guide. It’s a pain that doesn’t heal with words, just time.
On July 12th, the Los Angeles Angels returned home to California to confront their loss, and play a baseball game.
Every Angels player and coach felt the memory of Tyler Skaggs on their shoulders, but on their backs is where they would carry him. By wearing his number, the Angels were honoring their fallen brother who passed away ahead of the all-star break.
With the weight of their loss on their shoulders and his number on their backs, no one could foresee just how much Tyler was looking over their shoulders.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone switch their number to #45 in Tyler’s honor since his passing.
On the Tuesday following his death, Tyler’s old teammate Patrick Corbin of the Washington Nationals, pitched wearing his friend’s number. Across the diamond from Corbin was the Miami Marlins skipper, Don Mattingly, who is just three years removed from losing one of his players in a sudden, tragic way.
Just 24 hours removed from losing a close friend, one of his groomsmen, a teammate and companion through the rough waters of this game’s minor league system, Patrick Corbin was going to attempt to do something that Tyler Skaggs will never do again: pitch a normal baseball game.
Corbin’s start would turn out to be anything but normal, as rain stopped play twice. After a second rain delay lasted over an hour, Corbin fought to take the ball after play resumed. After the clouds lifted, Corbin tossed 3.2 innings of 2-hit baseball, striking out 4 Marlins, to cap off an emotional night.
Throwing out the first pitch for tonight’s game was Tyler’s mother. Her pitch?
A perfect strike.
After that? Angels arms Taylor Cole and Felix Peña plowed through the Mariners lineup. Just trying to get through the night of emotions this intense would be considered a win. Instead, the Los Angeles Angels threw a combined no-hitter, all of them wearing #45.
If it weren’t for one walk, the Angels pitching staff would have completed a perfect game. The only way this game could have been perfect is with Tyler on the hill himself.
But that’s why baseball is the way that it has been for over a century. It’s weird. A game where the impossible can happen with every passing moment, where the improbable lurks around each turn of an inning, and where sometimes the simplest thing is the hardest to complete.
Every night, each team sets out to get 27 outs, and for one final time, Tyler Skaggs got all 27 without giving up a single hit.
There’s no simple easy way to deal with loss. It stays with you, like a shadow. Sometimes the only way out is through. And there’s no way the Angels could have gotten through this game without Tyler Skaggs.
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