MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rangers are no longer in first place. A three-game sweep by the Minnesota Twins capped by a 6-3 loss on Sunday night took care of that. But the Rangers have bigger concerns right now. Their once-promising starting rotation is out of whack, and it took another hit on Sunday night when left-handed starter Derek Holland walked off the mound in the second inning with left shoulder soreness. He is scheduled to be examined by Dr. Keith Meister on Monday in Texas. His next start is scheduled for Saturday, against the Rays at the Ballpark in Arlington, but the Rangers are unsure if Holland will make that start.
"He's going to be looked at by Dr. Meister, and then we'll know more after that," said Rangers manager Ron Washington said. Holland threw just 43 pitches over nine batters before leaving with no outs in the second. That forced the Rangers to ask for seven more innings from their hard-pressed bullpen -- one that already leads the league in innings pitched. Rangers starters are 3-7 with a 6.81 ERA in their past 15 games while averaging just 5.3 innings per outing. The Rangers are 6-9 in that stretch. "We just have to ride this wave," Washington said. "They are our starting pitchers. We just have to ride this wave and start putting some runs on the board." If Holland can't go Saturday, the Rangers would most likely call up Tommy Hunter from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Hunter was 9-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 15 starts for the Rangers last year and, after beginning the season on the disabled list with a strained ribcage muscle, is 1-1 with a 2.91 ERA in five starts at Oklahoma City. He is scheduled to pitch Monday against New Orleans. The Rangers may pull him from that start, but even if he does pitch, he could be inserted into the Rangers' rotation on Saturday while pitching on his normal four days of rest. "We know where Hunter is, but we really haven't discussed that yet," Washington said. Holland warmed up in the bullpen without a problem and retired Twins leadoff hitter Denard Span on a fly ball to left. But his fastball was being clocked in the mid-80-mph range, and that set off alarms in the Texas dugout. Holland is normally above 90 mph, so Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux and trainer Jamie Reed rushed to the mound to see what was wrong. "I felt normal," Holland said. "I felt like every other day. I had no clue. Mike brought it up, he asked me if I was OK because my velocity was down. I said I was fine, so he told me to pick it back up." Holland gave up one run in the first on a single by Orlando Hudson and a double by Joe Mauer. He started feeling the tightness when he started warming up for the second inning. When the frame started with walks to Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy, and Nick Punto connected on a run-scoring single, Maddux was back on the mound expressing more concern. This time, Holland admitted that the shoulder was bothering him. The Rangers immediately brought in Matt Harrison. "It's just a little shoulder tightness," Holland said. "I feel like it will be all right. We'll get it taken care of. I'm in good hands with the training staff." Harrison gave up a run-scoring single to Span before getting out of the inning, and the Rangers scored two in the top of the third off Twins starter Scott Baker. Vladimir Guerrero had an RBI single and Josh Hamilton drove home a run with a sacrifice fly. But the Twins struck for two more runs off Harrison, who was making his first Major League relief appearance, to take a 5-2 lead. The Rangers couldn't catch them. They had 10 hits and three walks, but went just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 on base. The Rangers, who had to put Nelson Cruz on the disabled list on Sunday, managed just seven runs in the three-game series and have scored just 27 runs in losing six of their past eight games. "We just haven't clicked on all cylinders," said second baseman Ian Kinsler. "We're not scoring runs when we're getting good pitching, or we score runs and don't get good pitching. When we get all of that on the same page, we'll get on a roll." The Rangers, who are off on Monday, still finished May with a 15-12 record -- but they are going into June with a four-game losing streak. "We just didn't play very well this weekend, and they played well," said third baseman Michael Young. "We just didn't do one thing consistently well. So we'll take our day off, regroup and come back Tuesday."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.