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Weather prematurely ends Santiago's return

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

With Hector Santiago making his first start since June 6 after just one three-inning rehab appearance, and a doubleheader looming in Kansas City on Saturday, the Twins' rotation was already in a precarious situation on Tuesday night.

The weather didn't help, as a one-hour, 16-minute rain delay forced Santiago out after two innings, forcing the Twins to use the bullpen for six frames in a 9-2 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

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With Hector Santiago making his first start since June 6 after just one three-inning rehab appearance, and a doubleheader looming in Kansas City on Saturday, the Twins' rotation was already in a precarious situation on Tuesday night.

The weather didn't help, as a one-hour, 16-minute rain delay forced Santiago out after two innings, forcing the Twins to use the bullpen for six frames in a 9-2 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

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Santiago, making his return after missing three weeks with a left shoulder strain, was expected to be limited after throwing 57 pitches in his lone rehab outing with Triple-A Rochester last Wednesday. The rain made sure of it. He also struggled with his command, walking two and allowing a two-run homer to Christian Vazquez in the second.

Considering he was coming off injury and threw 49 pitches before the lengthy delay, it was a no-brainer to take out Santiago, but it caused the bullpen to get more work, which is an issue with six games coming over the next five days. It also puts the onus on rookie lefty Adalberto Mejia to pitch deep into the game on Wednesday.

"Kind of a repeated record -- we've been having trouble getting a lot of innings here as of late," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You start thinking about those things during the game and figure out who's going to be available tomorrow. The best-case scenario is Mejia has a good day. We'll find a way to get through it, and hopefully we come back and play a better game."

After the rain delay, relievers Alan Busenitz, Craig Breslow, Matt Belisle and Trevor Hildenberger combined to throw six innings to help pick up the slack. Belisle and Hildenberger went two innings each, but Belisle gave up a three-run homer in the sixth following Minnesota's third error of the game.

The Twins at least escaped without having to use key relievers like Taylor Rogers, Buddy Boshers, Tyler Duffey or Brandon Kintzler, and with Hildenberger getting through the final two innings, catcher Chris Gimenez was spared from making his seventh relief outing of the year.

"I felt really good out there, but obviously I wish I could have been out there a little longer," Santiago said. "The rain came in and ruined that, and ruined it for our bullpen and had to get them in early."

It puts the Twins in a tough spot, especially with two more games remaining at Fenway Park and the doubleheader against the Royals, but Santiago could come back on short rest on Saturday, given his start was rain-shortened.

"Absolutely you could, but somebody has got to start Sunday, too," Molitor said. "It depends on how we decide to manipulate with the 26-man [roster] and other moves that are forthcoming with Phil Hughes' potential return and whether it would be advantageous for us Saturday over Sunday."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Hector Santiago