We STILL Can’t Stop Thinking About The Night Seattle Lost … And Baseball Won

Last Friday, as the warm California evening air welcomed the Seattle Mariners to town for a weekend series against the Anaheim Angels, genuine baseball magic was stirring. In an era of sabermetrics and advanced statistics driving all the insights and trends in the majors, I for one still possess a deep appreciation for a classically great baseball story.

And this is unquestionably one of those.

As the Angels’ first home game since the shocking and heartbreaking death of starting pitcher, Tyler Skaggs (27), the evening was preceded by a touching on-field tribute that included his mother throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, a plaque presentation on the mound, a tribute video on the jumbotron, and a collective moment of stadium silence. Additionally, all the Angels players wore specially made, bright red No. 45 jerseys in honor of their fallen teammate.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way so we can celebrate the good: Our beloved Mariners lost in dramatic fashion: a 0-13.

It was a rough ride for M’s fans from the beginning. Mike Trout hit a 454-foot homerun on the first pitch he saw, eventually going 4 for 4 on the night with 6 RBIs. Ultimately, the Halos put up 7 runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back.

On the mound, the Angels utilized an opener, Taylor Cole, who pitched two innings of shutout baseball before handing the ball over to Félix Peña to carry the team the rest of the way.

For the uninitiated, an “opener” is a growing trend in the MLB where a ballclub uses a relief pitcher in the first few innings to face the toughest part of the opposing lineup–and hopefully allow a minimal number of runs–before switching out for a classic starter or long reliever. Essentially, the intention is to start the game off on the right foot.

And the Angels certainly did that, scoring 9 runs in their first two innings at the plate. But as the innings wore on, and the score became increasingly one-side, the pressure of potential history began to grow. Could something special be building in Anaheim? Could a no-hitter come to pass on this exceptionally emotional evening?

In the fifth inning, Mariners catcher Omar Narváez earned a walk, which both broke-up a perfect game and accounted for the team’s offensive high-water mark. After that, nothing. Not even with two outs in the top of the ninth, when Mallex Smith—the M’s last chance—hit a routine ground ball to second where Luis Rengifo scooped it up and fired to first baseman Justin Bour to complete the out and the game. Angels fans erupted in applause, an appropriate response to your team successfully finishing a no-hitter, but there was a deeper significance for the night’s achievement.

Of the 301 officially recognized no-hitters in MLB history, only 13 have been combined no-hitters, involving two or more pitchers contributing in the act*. When this ultra-rare event occurs, it becomes the definition of a “team win”, and on this special evening, nothing could’ve been more powerful.

In a post-game interview, Angels Manager, Brad Ausmus summed up the meaning of the collective team effort, “this is partly Skaggsy’s no-hitter.”

In a breathtaking and spontaneous act, the emotional apex of the night occurred after the game. One by one, Angels players made their way to the mound, they each removed their special No. 45 jerseys, and placed them on the dirt, blanketing the entire mound in a sea of red jerseys.

Future hall-of-famer, Mike Trout said it best: “You can’t make this up. This is incredible. We obviously loved him, and it’s a very emotional night for all of us.”

As a Mariners fan, it wasn’t our best night. But as a fan of baseball, these are the kinds of moments that make the game so special. No statistics, no analysis, no commentators, just pure humanity. For the players, coaches, and fans alike, this combined no-hitter was a truly exceptional moment and an incredible reminder of what’s important in baseball: the people we share the game with.

Rest in peace, Tyler. You will be missed.

*On June 8, 2012, the Seattle Mariners earned a combined no-hitter of their own when Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League, and Tom Wilhelmsen combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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About Jon Aiken 80 Articles
Born and raised in Seattle, Jon developed a deep love for the Mariners and Seahawks and continues to watch, analyze, and discuss them on a daily basis. As a professional advertising copywriter, the blending of these two loves (sports/words) seemed like a natural creative evolution. He recently moved south to Tacoma, fully embracing his new hometeam, the Rainers.