– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
ARLINGTON, Texas — One night after the tragic loss of a and teammate and a friend, the Los Angeles Angels played and won their first game since the sudden passing of 27-year-old pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Outfielder Kole Calhoun hit the only home run for the Angels during Tuesday’s contest and after the game, he shared the collective sentiment of his team had after the game — the same emotions that he had once stepping on home plate and raising his arms to the air after his homer.
“We know we’ve got an angel watching over us now,” Calhoun said while joined by his teammates in the Texas Rangers media room. (The Angels’ locker room was closed to the media.) “When I got to the plate [after the home run], it felt right to pay some respect to him, and like I said, we know we’ve got somebody watching over us up there.”
The Angels did give them a modicum of solace and a positive feel in an atmosphere that was far removed from what is accustomed at a baseball game.
“No, it wasn’t normal,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “And it felt like there was much more urgency to win. It’s been a rough 24 hours, and we haven’t had a lot to smile about, so a win would give us something.”
On Monday morning, Skaggs, 27, was found in his hotel room. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
“A tough 24 hours, and we’re getting through it,” said Angels outfielder Mike Trout in the Rangers’ press conference room, fighting back tears. “Tough playing out there today, but like Brad said earlier, Skaggsy wouldn’t want us to take another day off. The energy he brought to the clubhouse. Every time you saw him, he was just picking you up.
“It’s going to be tough, these couple of days, the rest of the season, the rest of our lives,” Trout continued.
Los Angeles won on Tuesday 9-4, a game enveloped in a subdued atmosphere — from the moment of silence before the game to the lack of in-stadium music and promotions during it. Pinch hitter Justin Bour came into the game for an injured Tommy La Stella in the sixth inning and delivered a bases-loaded two-run single off of Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc to give Los Angeles some breathing room at 6-3.
In 2016, Bour was a member of the Miami Marlins when All-Star pitcher Jose Fernández was killed in a boating accident in September of that year.
“There’s really no playbook for this,” Bour said after the game. “I know how tough it’s going to be every single day. And it takes a really long time for it to sink in. And it still, sometimes it just doesn’t.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 23 pictures in total.