LOS ANGELES, USA – A grieving Los Angeles Angels lineup defeated the Texas Rangers, 9-4, in Major League Baseball on Tuesday, July 2 (Wedneday, July 3, Philippine time) as the team returned to action a day after the sudden death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
The shellshocked Angels had postponed their game against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas on Monday just hours after the popular 27-year-old Skaggs was found unconscious in his hotel room.
The cause of the pitcher's death remains a mystery although authorities have said there were no obvious signs of suicide or foul play.
Angels officials meanwhile said they had opted to press ahead with Tuesday's game saying they believed it is what the pitcher would have wanted.
A somber start to the game saw players hold a moment of silence for Skaggs while the Rangers had painted the player's number 45 on the pitcher's mound. Players also wore "45" patches on their jerseys.
Moments of silence were held around the league on Tuesday, while some players wore jerseys emblazoned with 45 in tribute to Skaggs.
Speaking at a press conference before the game, Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Skaggs was "an exceptional young man with an entire life so full of promise yet to live."
"For some reason that is incomprehensible to all of us, he lives on now only in our minds and our hearts," Eppler added.
"Our team will never be the same without him. But forever we've been made better by him. Tyler brought joy to everybody around him. He was magnetic. People were drawn to him."
Team owner Arte Moreno meanwhile said the young pitcher's death had been a "punch in the heart."
"You can't believe it," Moreno said. "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."
Angels manager Brad Ausmus said Skaggs' grieving teammates might have found refuge in being able to play again on Tuesday.
"The first day back, whether it was today or tomorrow, was going to be one of the toughest, other than yesterday," Ausmus said.
"So I think Billy (Eppler) hit the nail on the head in a sense that the game itself can be a refuge for the players where they can turn their minds off and focus on baseball. I don't know that sitting in a hotel room would do them any good." – Rappler.com