Jim Johnson, Noe Ramirez, Hansel Robles, Cam Bedrosian, Justin Anderson and Jose Alvarez combined to hold the Rangers hitless through seven innings before Isiah Kiner-Falefa broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out single off Blake Parker in the eighth. The Angels had been vying to become the first MLB team to throw a combined no-hitter with more than six pitchers.
"I had a good feeling we'd get through it after the seventh," said catcher Joe Hudson, who made his first MLB start Tuesday. "Almost."
The Angels came close to letting their one-run lead slip away, too. After coaxing a flyout from pinch-hitter Ronald Guzman, Parker surrendered another single to Rougned Odor that put runners on the corners with two outs. Manager Mike Scioscia opted to bring in rookie Ty Buttrey to face Jurickson Profar, who bounced a grounder to third base that was fielded nicely by Kaleb Cowart for the final out of the inning.
Buttrey returned to the mound in the ninth and worked a scoreless inning to collect a four-out save and secure the Angels' ninth shutout victory of the season.
"They all did a great job," Scioscia said. "It's one of those games where you go bullpen, we're not scoring runs, and it just takes one hiccup for the game to swing in the other team's favor. Luckily for us, in the eighth inning, we got a big play from Cowart, and Buttrey came in and made some good pitches to Profar."
Jose Fernandez delivered the lone run of the evening by blasting his first MLB home run off Rangers right-hander Adrian Sampson in the second inning.
The Angels have been forced to use bullpen games over the last month to fill the holes in their rotation left by the injuries to Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano and Shohei Ohtani. Hours before Tuesday's game, Scioscia made it clear that the tactic was one they'd prefer not to be deploying.
"They're not by design," Scioscia said. "You wish you had Garrett Richards, you wish you had Tyler Skaggs, you wish you had Nick Tropeano, you wish you had JC Ramirez. You can go down the list. These are the guys you wish you had at this point in the season, not a bullpen day."
Still, the Angels' cavalcade of relievers came within five outs of throwing the franchise's second combined no-hitter.
Johnson, who had not started a game since his MLB debut with the Orioles in 2006, opened the bullpen game with 1 1/3 scoreless innings, though he issued a pair of walks to Profar and Joey Gallo. Ramirez replaced him and worked around a two-out walk to Profar in the third to post 1 2/3 clean innings, and he wound up getting the win.
Robles, Bedrosian, Anderson and Alvarez then combined to throw four perfect innings. The closest the Rangers came to a hit during that span was in the fifth, when second baseman David Fletcher made a nice backhanded grab to field a grounder off the bat of Drew Robinson and end the inning.
"The past couple of years, we've been kind of under the radar as far as bullpens, but we've always had confidence in ourselves and we champ at the bit when we get a bullpen day," Parker said. "We kind of take pride in that and going out and hanging up zeros, and trying to keep our team in the game.
"I didn't get it done, but maybe we'll have that chance again to go out and get it done."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Angels produced only two hits against Sampson, but one was Fernandez's second-inning homer. After returning to the dugout, Fernandez received the silent treatment from his teammates and compensated by high-fiving a line of invisible people. Mike Trout finally ended the ruse by splashing him with a cup of water.
Fernandez was once one of the top players in Cuba, but his career stalled following a failed defection in 2014. He had to wait until age 30 to finally make his MLB debut with the Angels on June 8, and is now batting .293 over 23 games this season.
"This is one of the greatest successes that I've had in my career," Fernandez said in Spanish. "I had to work hard and fight to get here. I'm here now in the big leagues and day by day, I'm showing my worth."
SOUND SMART The Angels tied an MLB record by using eight pitchers in a nine-inning shutout. The club also accomplished the feat against the A's on Aug. 30, 2014.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY Hudson appeared to sneak into first base in the fifth inning, but the call was overturned in favor of the Rangers after a review. Hudson hit a ground ball to shortstop and Elvis Andrus' high throw took first baseman Profar off the bag. But replay showed that Profar reached down to apply the tag in time on a diving Hudson to end the fifth inning.
UP NEXT Right-handers Felix Pena (2-4, 4.04 ERA) and Yovani Gallardo (8-4, 6.22 ERA) will face off on Wednesday as the Angels and Rangers close out their three-game series at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. It will be Pena's first career appearance against Texas. He has logged a 6.17 ERA in nine home starts this season compared with a 2.21 ERA in seven starts on the road.