BOSTON — You could see the healing at Angel Stadium.
As Los Angeles returned home for the first time since the passing of 27-year-old pitcher Tyler Skaggs, it was sure to be an emotional night regardless.
A mural of Skaggs was now painted on the outfield wall. There was a 45-second moment of silence for No. 45. His mother, Debbie, threw out the first pitch and fired a strike.
And then, wearing No. 45 jerseys with Skaggs on the back, his Angels teammates went out and no-hit the Mariners.
After the final out, all of the teary Angels placed their uniforms on the mound and walked off the field together. It felt too Hollywood to be true, but rest assured, it was real life.
Red Sox bench coach Ron Roenicke knew Skaggs well, he was with him for two years in Los Angleles, and was amazed when he awoke to the news on Saturday morning.
“You get teared up looking at all the stuff that happened. And the numbers,” Roenicke paused. “The crazy things.”
Mike Trout blasted an early homer that went 454 feet: No. 45 whichever way you look at it. The Angels went on to score seven first inning runs and won the game 13-0. Skaggs’ birthday was 7/13.
When Justin Bour snared the game’s final out, it was already July 13 on the East Coast, and two Angels pitchers, Taylor Cole and Félix Peña, had teamed up to toss the no-hitter.
The last time a combined no-hitter was thrown in California?
July 13, 1991: The day Skaggs was born.
“I had my wife read it, too, and I looked over and she’s crying,” Roenicke said. “Special guy. I think any time something like that happens it’s gonna be hard, but when it’s a guy that people truly like, like Tyler was... I think with his family and his wife, it was a pretty touching moment. The jerseys on the mound afterward, what a great tribute, and in a fitting way it’s kind of their memorial to him.
“I listened to Trouty talk and he was all choked up with the things he had to say,” Roenicke continued. “You just hope these guys appreciate what they have. We’re in this cocoon when we’re playing and we’re really sheltered from a lot that goes on, especially out in the world, so when this hits in your own home it’s difficult.”
The Angels’ bench coach in 2016 and 2017, Roenicke was in Los Angeles during a tough time in Skaggs’ career. But as the young lefty tried to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, his warmth never wavered.
“I just know that when you come in every day and you always see certain guys, you say hi to them and there’s always a smile on their face. I remember those guys,” Roenicke said. “Like when I walk in this (Red Sox) clubhouse, I know which guys are going to smile every time I say hi to them and which guys are just going to nod and say hey. Tyler was always in a good mood. Always one of those guys who just smiled and was positive about things.
“Even though when I was there he was having some injuries and he was trying to battle through those things. That’s not easy. You find out a lot about people when things aren’t going well. He handled all that really well.
“To have the same personality and the same joy in coming to the ballpark and what you do every day, it is pretty special.”
And given the circumstances and all of Skaggs’ numbers, Roenicke doesn’t believe Friday night’s no-hitter was a coincidence. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
“In my beliefs, I know there’s a God that’s in control of all this,” Roenicke said. “So it’s easy for me. But I think it’s harder for maybe some other people. I think people will realize that, come on, this stuff just doesn’t happen. I believe that God is in control of everything that happens to us. So for me it’s just so cool.
“With the tough time that they’ve been through, and that they’re still going to have, there needs to be some blessing somewhere. And that was a nice little blessing.”
Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason