ARLINGTON, Texas — The schedule exhibits no mercy. It is among the first guidelines an expert baseball participant learns. Night after evening, metropolis after metropolis, you go to the sphere and play. For six months, off-days are treasured and scarce.
The Los Angeles Angels arrived right here in Arlington on Sunday evening sporting cowboy hats on the staff flight. It was Tyler Skaggs’s thought. The aircraft landed and the gamers went to their suburban lodge. Skaggs, a 27-year-old pitcher, was discovered useless in his room there on Monday afternoon.
The Angels and the Texas Rangers postponed their recreation that evening. Major League Baseball and the Rangers would have granted the Angels one other day to take in the shock, however the Angels mentioned they have been prepared on Tuesday.
“The game itself can be a refuge for players, where they can turn their minds off and just focus on baseball,” Angels Manager Brad Ausmus mentioned at a somber information convention earlier than batting observe at Globe Life Park. “And I don’t know that sitting in a hotel room would do them any good.”
Ausmus paused for 4 agonizing seconds after the phrases “hotel room.” The Angels switched accommodations on Monday evening, leaving the Hilton the place their teammate was discovered useless. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s workplace scheduled an post-mortem, however there was no announcement a few reason behind demise. The police have mentioned they don’t suspect foul play or suicide.
“For some reason that is incomprehensible to all of us, he lives on now only in our minds and in our hearts,” Angels General Manager Billy Eppler mentioned. “Tyler brought joy to everybody around him. He was magnetic. People were drawn to him.”
For now, there are tributes however no solutions. The Rangers held a second of silence earlier than the sport, stenciled Skaggs’s No. 45 on the again of the mound, and performed no music earlier than the primary pitch or earlier than their at-bats. The Angels wore a patch with Skaggs’s quantity over their hearts, and hung his jersey of their dugout. Patrick Corbin, a Washington Nationals pitcher who was drafted by the Angels with Skaggs in 2009, wore No. 45 in his begin towards the Miami Marlins on Tuesday as a substitute of his standard No. 46.
The recreation right here felt disjointed and took greater than 4 hours. The Rangers threw 249 pitches and made 4 errors. The Angels misplaced two gamers to accidents — Tommy La Stella and Brian Goodwin — however prevailed, 9-Four. Kole Calhoun homered for his or her closing two runs.
“It kind of felt right,” Calhoun mentioned, flanked by a dozen or so teammates in a convention room after the sport. “We know we’ve got an angel watching over us now.”
For many gamers, the loss introduced again haunting recollections. Albert Pujols, the Angels’ designated hitter, misplaced two teammates throughout the seasons when he performed for the St. Louis Cardinals: pitchers Darryl Kile, in 2002, and Josh Hancock, in 2007. Jeff Mathis, a Rangers catcher, played for the Marlins when pitcher Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident in September 2016.
Mathis was also playing for the Angels in April 2009 when starting pitcher Nick Adenhart, 22, was killed by a drunken driver just hours after the best game of his brief career.
“It was almost like we were playing that year for him,” Mathis said of the ’09 Angels, who reached the American League Championship Series. “It was very dear to us to honor him in the best way we could every time we stepped on the field.”
On the whiteboard in the Rangers’ clubhouse Tuesday, near Mathis’s locker, was an unusual note: “Team prayer after B.P.” The Angels’ clubhouse was closed to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, and again after the game. Before the game the players went to the conference room where Eppler, Ausmus, the team owner Arte Moreno and the team president John Carpino took questions.
“It’s like a punch in the heart,” Moreno said, adding later, “You can’t believe it. You think somebody’s there and they’re not there. The team is such a family, and when you take a piece away from the family, there’s always a hole.”
The players watched silently as the others talked. Mike Trout, the majors’ best player, pulled a red Angels hoodie over his head and bowed. Trout was drafted in the same class as Skaggs, and this is the second year in a row he has dealt with tragedy. Trout left the team last August after the death of his brother-in-law, Aaron Cox, a former Angels minor leaguer.
After Tuesday’s game, Trout fought back tears as he talked about Skaggs. He said Skaggs would have wanted the team to play.
“My first at-bat, I get up there and all I do is think about him,” Trout said. “Just a different feeling, just in shock. Walking around the hotel, you’re just always thinking about him. It’s going to be tough. Getting to the game and playing in the game kind of got our minds off it, but it’s bigger than the game. The friendship and the love I had for him and his family, it’s more than that.”
Ausmus said the players had gathered twice to share memories of Skaggs, to listen to the music he liked and to laugh at old stories. Mark Gubicza, a broadcaster and former pitcher, smiled as he thought of Skaggs doing the floss dance. They two of them had a silly routine, texting each other photos of their Starbucks orders before every game. They talked pitching, too.
“He was getting better and better,” Gubicza said. “He started using his changeup more to lefties. That’s one thing he told me this spring: ‘Watch me, I’m going to start throwing my changeup to lefties; it’s going to make me better.’ He was almost like a son to me.”
Skaggs had been lined up to pitch the final game of this series, on Thursday. He was eager to pitch later this month at Dodger Stadium. He rooted for the Dodgers as a boy in Santa Monica, Calif., and was heartbroken when they passed on him in the draft.
“There’s definitely a big grudge there,” Skaggs said Sunday to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.
This had been Skaggs’s best season; after many injuries, he had made all his starts, led the team in innings and was 3-1 with a 2.49 earned run average in his last four starts.
Now he was gone, and the Rangers watched footage of another Angels left-hander, Jose Suarez, on their clubhouse televisions as they prepared for Tuesday’s game. The schedule rolled on, without a player whose presence loomed over the ballpark.
“A 27-year-old kid,” Rangers Manager Chris Woodward said. “So much promise, so much life to live. It just makes no sense.”
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