ARLINGTON -- Diego Moreno knew that his assignment was to provide length in the event that the Yankees' patchwork pitching plan hit a snag, but the 28-year-old right-hander did not expect to hear the bullpen phone ringing for him in the bottom of the first inning.
Summoned after starter Chris Capuano recorded only two outs in a five-run first, Moreno delivered an impressive performance to earn his first big league win, hurling 5 1/3 innings of scoreless, hitless ball in the Yankees' 21-5 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.
"I was super happy about the opportunity given to me, just to be able to be part of the win today," Moreno said through an interpreter. "They called me to be in the bullpen today, to help out, and I was happy that I could contribute to the win."
The Rangers did not manage a hit after Capuano's exit as the Yankees scored 21 unanswered runs. Moreno worked around a third-inning walk with five strikeouts before handing the ball off to right-hander Adam Warren, who retired all nine batters he faced to pick up an unlikely save with a 16-run lead.
Though the Yankees' rout featured plenty of offensive stars -- every player in the starting lineup scored at least one run and Mark Teixeira was the only starter not to record a hit -- Moreno was their MVP of the evening.
"That was sick. [Moreno] was the player tonight," said Chris Young, who hit a grand slam and drove in five runs. "He kept us in the dugout; we were never on defense too long. Stay fresh, stay within the rhythm of the game and continue to produce runs throughout the rest of the game. It was amazing."
Summoned from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier in the afternoon, Moreno was making his third appearance of the season for New York. Perhaps unfairly, his 70 pitches will probably ticket him for a return to the Minors, but the outing left a good impression.
"The strikes he threw, velocity. His changeup was outstanding," manager Joe Girardi said. "His slider was outstanding. He was ahead in the count and he was able to expand. He had one walk, and it was the only baserunner they had. He just attacked the zone."
One of the players obtained from the Pirates in the February 2012 A.J. Burnett trade, Moreno became the first pitcher with a relief win in 5 1/3 hitless innings since the Rangers' John Barfield on Aug. 18, 1990, vs. the White Sox.
"I'm extremely happy," Moreno said. "My family back home in Venezuela, they are all very happy about the opportunity and also the first Major League win."
The strange game was the after-product of the Yankees looking to offer additional rest to Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia. Initially they planned to have right-hander Bryan Mitchell pitch on Tuesday, but he hit his head after falling in the weight room with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and no longer lined up for the start.
Girardi said after Tuesday's game that the Yankees were not ready to make any roster moves, but it is likely that they will summon at least one fresh arm before Wednesday's contest. That could involve Moreno, but it also would not be a surprise if Capuano were to be bumped from the roster -- the 42-pitch effort swelled his ERA to 6.97.
"It's certainly great when you've got guys like Diego and Warren throwing no-hits the rest of the game, which was unbelievable to watch," Capuano said. "The way this team just kept fighting, and putting up all those runs, that part was fun to watch."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.