The Los Angeles Angels, one day after teammate Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his team hotel room from undetermined causes, returned to the field Tuesday and earned a win in Arlington, Texas.
Not surprisingly, the Angels seemed distracted and somewhat dazed at the start of the game, but they slowly gathered themselves and rallied for a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers.
The opener of the four-game series scheduled for Monday was postponed, but players firmly believed Skaggs would have wanted them to play on Tuesday.
Angels manager Brad Ausmus told reporters before the game that stepping on the field should provide his players a mental reprieve, if just for a few seconds at a time.
“Once the game starts, it’s actually a refuge, because it takes your mind off it,” Ausmus said. “When you go back to your hotel room, you’re reminded of reality.”
Los Angeles pitchers Andrew Heaney and Cam Bedrosian carried Skaggs’ jersey out before the game and hung it in the dugout.
The Angels then sent rookie Jose Suarez to the mound against All-Star Mike Minor of the Rangers, and Texas built a 3-1 lead through four innings.
The Angels tied the game with two runs in the fifth, then added four more in the sixth.
The big blow in the sixth came after Los Angeles got a run on Justin Upton’s single, putting the visitors up 4-3. Angels second baseman Tommy La Stella, who was named to his first All-Star team on Sunday, had to be helped off the field after fouling a pitch from Jose Leclerc off his right knee area with the bases loaded and one out.
Justin Bour replaced La Stella with a full count and grounded the first pitch into right to score two runs and extend the lead to 6-3.
Kole Calhoun’s two-run homer in the eighth stretched the edge to 9-4.
As he crossed the plate, Calhoun clapped his hands twice and pointed both to the sky.
“Today is one of the hardest days,” Ausmus said. “I know it gets easier, but it’s difficult.”
Angels reliever Trevor Cahill (3-6) gave up one run in two innings for the win. Rangers reliever Peter Fairbanks (0-2) didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced in the sixth, and he was charged with three runs.
—Field Level Media