Sports can sometimes seem scripted, as fairy tale narratives unfold before our eyes in ways that we could never have imagined.
This was the case for the Los Angeles Angels tonight, in their first home game played since losing starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs two weeks ago.
Before the game began, Skaggs mother Debbi foreshadowed things to come when she took the mound to threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Debbie delivered a perfect strike to her son’s best friend Andrew Heaney, which was just the start of a remarkable night. Every Angel took the field against the Seattle Mariners wearing Skaggs’ No. 45 jersey . With Skaggs in their minds and in their hearts, the Angels delivered one of the most perfect games imaginable to honor their fallen teammate.
Offensively, Mike Trout got the night started for the Angles on the first pitch he saw, hitting a ball to the heavens for a monster two-run homer.
Trout put together a stellar night at the plate, with that home run, two doubles and six RBIs, leading the Angels to scoring 13 runs. The Angels put together a seven-run first inning and scored in all but three innings, in a night where it seemed like every member of the team got involved.
While the offense was great, the best way to honor Skaggs was to dominant on the same mound where he had so many great moments in his young career. Debbie Skaggs opened the game with a strike and Taylor Cole picked up where she left off by pitching two perfect innings to start the game.
But Cole was just meant to be the opener, as the Angels have often employed that strategy for most of Felix Pena’s “starts” this year. So after Cole made his way through two innings, he handed the ball over to Pena and the 29-year-old righty did the rest.
Pena needed just 81 pitches to work his way through the last seven innings of the game, as he struck out six batters, walked one and most importantly, did not allow a single hit.
Skaggs spirit was definitely in the building on this night, as it seemed like a higher power was there to guide the Angels through this game. In fact, it was almost as if those Angels in the Outfield movies was playing out in real life, as everything came easy for the Angels in that brilliant performance.
Skaggs was a starting pitcher that was just beginning to establish himself in the game. He was leading the Angels in both wins and strikeouts at the time of his passing. The Angels winning this game 13-0 would have been a great story in of itself. But for them to throw a combined no-hitter under all of these circumstances, it truly is one of those moments in sports that is inexplicable.
In the end, this is why we watch sports. Sports can be a personification of life. There is ups and downs. We often have to overcome more obstacles than we enjoy successes. And in the worst of circumstances, we have to deal with tragedy.
In the end though, sports can produce moments like this no-hitter, that transcend everything else to give us something to cheer about.
Nationals Bring Back World Series MVP, Signing Stephen Strasburg to Record Contract
When Stephen Strasburg opted out of his contract following the Washington Nationals World Series run, it was assumed that the two sides would come together on a new deal.
Strasburg was on the heels of leading the Nationals to their first ever World Series title and being named the World Series MVP.
Now the inevitable has happened, as Strasburg has agreed to a record-breaking contract extension to remain in D.C. long-term.
The contract sets a record for the highest average annual value ever given to a starting pitcher at $35 million a year.
He also breaks the record set by David Price for the largest contract ever given to a pitcher, as Price signed a seven-year, $217 million deal back in 2016.
All of this sets up the market for Gerrit Cole, as he has been viewed as the top starting pitcher in free agency.
Cole could end up signing a $300 million deal, joining Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout as the only players to ever sign a contract north of $300 million.
Trout of course made more than anyone when the Los Angeles Angels signed him to a 12-year, $430 million extension.
Still, Cole is going to get paid and he can thank Strasburg for signing first and setting the table for him to get exactly what he wants.
Going back to Strasburg, this is a significant agreement as he now gets the rare opportunity to spend his entire career in one organization.
Strasburg was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft and quickly made his debut in 2010. This new deal will keep Strasburg in D.C. through 2026, when he will be 38 years old.
He was already going to be considered one of the greatest players in franchise history after his postseason heroics, but Strasburg now has seven more years to add to that legacy.
Nationals Re-Sign NLCS MVP and World Series Hero Howie Kendrick
The Washington Nationals would not have won the World Series this year if not for Howie Kendrick.
It seemed like every time the Nationals needed a big hit in the playoffs, it was Kendrick that came up to the plate and delivered.
Now just before the Winter Meetings the Nationals have made one of their first moves of the offseason by bringing back the NLCS MVP on a one-year, $6.25 million deal.
Kendrick, 36, had a great season even before October, hitting .344 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs across 120 games played.
Then came the postseason, where Kendrick’s first clutch hit came in Game 5 of the NLDS, as Nationals upset the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With the game tied in extra-innings, Kendrick hit a grand slam that gave Washington a commanding lead and ultimately allowed them to advance to the NLCS.
In the NLCS, Kendrick hit .333, with four doubles, four runs scored and four RBIs. Following the four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, Kendrick was named the NLCS MVP.
Then in the World Series against the Houston Astros, Kendrick went 7-for-25. The most significant of those hits came in Game 7, when Kendrick delivered the biggest hit in Nationals history.
Now Kendrick gets to return to the Nationals and try to defend their title in 2020.
Blake Snell’s Hilariously Harsh Reaction to Teammate Tommy Pham Being Traded
If you have ever wondered how a player will react to the news that one of their teammates has been traded, you are in luck.
Thanks to Twitch, the live streaming service that video gamers use, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell’s reaction to the news of teammate Tommy Pham getting traded went viral late Thursday night.
Snell is immediately upset as he discovers that one of the best hitters on his team has been traded, “For Hunter Renfroe and some slap-d*** prospect!”
Pham, 31, is coming off a great season, as he hit .273/.369.818, with 21 home runs, 68 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. He was originally traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Rays at the deadline in 2018.
After the shock of the trade settled in a little bit, Snell was able to give more context to his reaction on the trade, as Pham was really integral to a team that won 96 games last year.
As Snell pointed out, the trade is sending Rays outfielder Tommy Pham to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Hunter Renfroe and top prospect Xavier Edwards.
Renfroe, 27, will replace Pham in the Rays outfield and while he does not bring the same athleticism, he does have a big bat. Renfroe has 85 home runs over the last three years, 33 of which he hit last season.
Renfroe is a .235 career hitter, but the Rays should be able to find solid production out of him next season.
The real coup of the trade was the prospect Snell was so affectionate towards, as Edwards has the chance to be a future star for the Rays.
Edwards was drafted by the Padres in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He is a middle infielder that will likely have the versatility to play all over the diamond, maybe becoming a super utility type player.
Last season, Edwards hit .322/.375/.396, with 34 stolen bases and 76 runs scored across two levels of the Single-A, finishing the year in High-A.
That means that despite just turning 20 years old in August, Edwards is already a few promotions away from the big leagues. Once there, Edwards can try to mend fences with Snell after his brilliant introduction to the Rays.
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