Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs , and his death impacted many people around the world of baseball. Among them: Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin. The two played together in Double-A and Triple-A in the Diamondbacks system and then were together on the 2013 Diamondbacks.
Corbin started for the Nationals on Tuesday night and his manager, Dave Martinez, said that despite losing a close friend, Corbin was set to give it a go. He also wore Skaggs' number 45 instead of his customary 46 as a tribute.
Patrick Corbin will wear Tyler Skaggs’ No. 45 jersey on the mound tonight to honor him. Dave Martinez said the two were best friends, but Corbin wanted to pitch tonight— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) July 2, 2019
“He wants to pitch, he feels like it’s what he needs to do.”
We shouldn't need a reminder that some things in life are much more important than baseball, but Skaggs' death was one of them. Corbin's going go out to honor his friend is pretty cool.
Corbin took the mound at 7:05 p.m. ET to face the Marlins and drew a number 45 on the back end of the mound:
Corbin would have done his friend proud in this one. He threw seven innings -- despite an hour-plus rain delay factored in there -- and allowed just one run on six hits. He struck out seven and didn't walk anyone. He only needed 87 pitches, too.
After the Nationals' win, Corbin was understandably emotional about having lost his friend:
Corbin fought back tears and then broke down less than two minutes into the media scrum. Tyler Scaggs was in his wedding this offseason.— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) July 3, 2019
“He’s just all I’m thinking about right now.”
That Corbin was able to pitch the way he did despite having the emotions he did is a testament to his mental toughness. Physical gifts are needed for sure, but MLB players have to be incredibly mentally tough to stick at this level given how often failure manifests itself simply as part of the game. Fighting through the emotions of losing a close friend to pitch the way Corbin did one day later is another in a long line of examples.