ANAHEIM, California. – The sanctuary that has become Tyler Skaggs' locker at the Los Angeles clubhouse had a new addition on Saturday: the ball from the batter's final that the Angels threw while wearing the shirt of their late teammate.
As they prepared to face Seattle on what would have been Skaggs' 28th birthday, the Angels were still trying to absorb everything that had happened the previous day in a remarkable 13-0 victory.
Taylor Cole started with two perfect innings and Felix Pena kept the Mariners out of bounds the rest of the way in the first game at the Angels' home since Skaggs was found unresponsive in his hotel room in Texas on July 1.
Cole wore a T-shirt with the Skaggs slogan, "We are unpleasant," in the clubhouse before the game. He said he was still exaggerated after the victory.
"I feel very good to have been part of the story and to have helped this city to cope a little," he said. "When you can comfort and help people heal, and help people realize that there is more to this than baseball, everyone will be fine."
Receiver Dustin Garneau said he still had more than 100 text messages on his phone that he had not had the opportunity to see after being behind the plate.
"Honestly, it was what we needed and, hopefully, what his family needed to give them some comfort, for us, he joined us all," he said. "After the game, we were all sitting in our lockers and we were still in shock, it was really great to see what happened."
It was the first non-hit combined game in a game in California since July 13, 1991, which was the day Skaggs was born. That was not the only numerological coincidence. The Angels scored seven runs in the first and finished with 13 for the game – 7/13, as their birthday.
Mike Trout's first-inning homer traveled 454 feet, matching Skaggs No. 45 jersey.
"I've seen all the numbers surrounding the game, it's pretty remarkable," manager Brad Ausmus said. "You do not know if you could really even write it in. You should have a wild imagination to write that."
Los Angeles went back to wearing their regular jerseys on Saturday, but Skaggs' No. 45 red was still hanging in the third base dugout. The makeshift memorial of flowers and other souvenir samples were still outside the plate door at the Angels Stadium. A short video reminiscent of Skaggs' birthday was played in the middle of the first entry.
While Friday's game was emotional, beginning with Skaggs' mother, Debbie launching the first pitch, many of the players said it gave them a sense of normalcy. Short field Andrelton Simmons said it was the first time he had slept well since the death of Skaggs.
"It was very comforting from the last two weeks," he said. "Every once in a while, you try to keep going, you try to overcome the fact, sometimes it's difficult, but you have to do it."