"Tommy came off in the third inning and said his shoulder was starting to tighten up, which forced us to get [reliever Andrew Albers] in there a little earlier than I had hoped," Molitor said.
Milone said that the shoulder and biceps area had been bothering him for around a month, but he was able to pitch through it because he could recover in the four days between his starts. He believes that moving to the bullpen and then making a spot start with a suddenly increased pitch count might have added some stress to his arm.
On Thursday, he first felt the shoulder start to bother him in the second inning, in which Houston sent nine batters to the plate and scored four runs.
"It wasn't one specific pitch, but I could feel it getting aggravated," Milone said.
He left the game after throwing 66 pitches, allowing five earned runs in three innings, including home runs by Evan Gattis and Carlos Correa.
Luckily for the Twins, Albers was able to preserve a battered Minnesota bullpen by gutting out a 108-pitch, six-inning outing in his first Major League appearance since May 1, 2015.
Albers was originally selected from Triple-A Rochester as Minnesota's 26th man, permitted by rule for the second game of a doubleheader. However, he was added to the 25-man roster after Buddy Boshers was placed on the disabled list between the two halves of the twin bill.
A long outing by Albers was particularly important because the Twins were playing without a 26th man after right-handed pitcher Pat Light's flight to Minneapolis was cancelled.
"I'm grateful that Albers was here," Molitor said. "What he did, you can't underscore enough. He came out, he got banged around a bit the first couple of innings, but he ended up throwing 108 pitches. He picked us up."
Although Albers got off to a rocky start, allowing two runs in the fourth and two runs in the fifth, he settled down and allowed only one more run for the remainder of the game. He allowed five runs (three earned) on 11 hits in his six innings of work.
"We kept checking in with him," Molitor said. "Even after the eighth inning, I was tempted to get [reliever Ryan] Pressly in there, which I really didn't want to do, but [Albers] said he was good. He said he was just starting to get loose."