Welcome to the roundup of must-see sports news from Friday, highlighted by the Los Angeles Angels turning tragedy into triumph, throwing a combined no-hitter in their first game back in Anaheim since the unexpected July 1 death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
We will also take a look at the fallout and reaction from the Houston Rockets’ trade for Russell Westbrook and Roger Federer beating long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the semifinals at Wimbledon.
All this and more as we get you up to speed with the sports world on this Saturday!
Angels Honor Tyler Skaggs, Throw No-Hitter in First Home Game Since Pitcher’s Death
The Los Angeles Angels have been dealing with the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs since the rising star shockingly died on died July 1 in his hotel room at the age of 27. His cause of death has not been revealed, though police have said that no foul play is suspected. Skaggs, known to his teammates as “Swaggy,” would have turned 28 on July 13.
In the team’s first home game since Skaggs’ passing, the Angels honored their fallen teammate and were motivated to get the big win. The signs came early, when Debbie Skaggs — Tyler Skaggs’ mother — delivered a perfect first pitch to start the evening game against the Mariners. There would be many more.
The Angels all wore Skaggs’ No. 45 jersey and played inspired, delivering seven first-inning runs and running away with a 13-0 win to start the second half of the season off strong. Mike Trout drove in six runs to spark the offense while Felix Pena and Taylor Cole combined for a no-hitter.
“Tonight was in honor of him,” Trout said. “He was definitely looking over us tonight. He’s probably up there saying we’re nasty. What an unbelievable game to be a part of. I’m speechless. This is the best way possible to honor him tonight. It was pretty crazy.”
Roger Federer Blitzes Rafael Nadal To Reach Wimbledon Final
In another classic matchup of all-time greats, Roger Federer bested Rafael Nadal 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 at Wimbledon to reach a record 12th final at the All England Club. Federer let multiple match points slip away before finally seeing Nadal’s return go long to clinch the match.
“I’m exhausted. It was tough at the end,” Federer said. “I’m just very relieved it’s all over.”
Federer will face Novak Djokovic — another one of his long-time rivals — in the final. The top-seeded Serbian and defending champion at Wimbledon dispatched 23rd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal. Djokovic is looking forward to facing Federer, who’s chasing history. Within his sights is a ninth Wimbledon title and 21st Grand Slam trophy.
“We all know how good he is anywhere,” Djokovic said about Federer, “but especially here.”
Federer is looking forward to the matchup as well, but knows it won’t be easy. Djokovic has a 3-1 record against Federer in Grand Slam Finals and holds a 25-22 advantage overall.
“I hope I can push him to the brink and hopefully beat him. But it’s going to be very difficult, as we know,” Federer said. “He’s not No. 1 just by chance.”
Reaction Around the NBA Continues Following Rockets’ Blockbuster Trade for Russell Westbrook
The bonkers NBA offseason continued when the Thunder dealt Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets on Thursday in a move that again shifted the balance of power in the league.
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, the Rockets sent Chris Paul, two first-round picks and two pick swaps to Oklahoma City in exchange for the 2017 MVP.
Westbrook was hosting a comedy show in Tulsa, Oklahoma with comedian Demetrius Deason when the news broke of his trade to the Rockets. He seemed pretty happy about linking up with his former teammate, James Harden, and was even seen dancing, as Heavy.com’s Brandon Robinson revealed.
Westbrook posted a note for fans in Oklahoma City on his Instagram following the trade. He had spent his entire 11-year career with the franchise and was the only remaining player from the Thunder’s first season in Oklahoma City after the franchise moved from Seattle in 2008.
“I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now. It’s been one heck of a journey Oklahoma! When I came here, I was 18 years old, bright eyed, and completely unaware of all the amazing things that would soon take place. I grew up in Oklahoma with an amazing bunch of people. The people here are what makes this place so special. From the fans, my coaches, my teammates, the entire Thunder organization, Mr. Bennett, Sam Presti, my friends, and everyone in the entire community. You are all what makes Oklahoma such a beautiful place, and the reason I’ve loved playing here all of this time. You have supported me through all of the ups and the downs, and stood by me through the good times, and tough times. For that I am eternally grateful to you. I’ve met so many amazing people who have helped shape me into the man that I am today. I hope I have impacted the Oklahoma community as much as Oklahoma has made an impact on me and my family. I’m leaving Oklahoma with so many friends and so much gratitude. I could never thank you all enough for sticking with me. It’s been a dream and a whirlwind. #WHYNOT”
NBA players also weighed in on the deal and the continued trend of superstars being on the move. Moves of note include Paul George and Kawhi Leonard linking up with the LA Clippers, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signing with the Nets and the L.A. Lakers finally landing Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James.
Rockets center Clint Capela also gave his two cents and made sure to thank Paul, who he credited as a key mentor in his career.
There is rampant speculation about where Paul will end up, with his long-term home unlikely to be with the Thunder, a team firmly in rebuilding mode.
If there are no teams willing to take on the 34-year-old point guard’s remaining three years and $124 million on his contract, there could be a buyout on the horizon for Paul, opening him up to sign with any team he desires. Among the possible fits could be the Lakers, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic.
DON’T MISS THESE STORIES: Rounding Up the Top Sports Headlines
- LeBron’s No.23 Jersey Swap With Anthony Davis on Hold
- Raiders Lineman Richie Incognito Banned Two Games For Conduct
- Green Bay Packers Profit Down 98% Due to Contracts, Changes
- NFL Owners Reportedly Propose 18-Game Schedule
WHAT’S ON TAP IN THE SPORTS WORLD
WIMBLEDON: WOMEN’S FINAL
Serena Williams will look to tie the record for all-time Grand Slam singles titles on Saturday. Standing in her way in the Wimbledon final will be former world No. 1 Simona Halep.
When: Saturday, 9 a.m.
WIMBLEDON: MEN’S FINAL
Roger Federer is in a familiar spot, playing in his ninth Wimbledon final. He’s is chasing his ninth title and will be taking on long-time rival and defending champion Novak Djokovic.
When: Sunday, 9 a.m.