Derek Holland's April was about as promising as the Texas Rangers could have hoped for after missing most of the previous two seasons due to injury. May has washed that all out.
He'll try to get back on track Monday night as the Rangers begin a three-game road series with the Oakland Athletics against another struggling left-hander.
Holland (3-2, 6.09 ERA) went 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his first five starts and completed at least five innings in each. Over his last two, he's 0-1 with 16 runs allowed in just five total innings. He gave up five runs – four earned – and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings of Tuesday's 13-11 home win over the Chicago White Sox.
He hasn't faced the A's since 2014 but has struggled in his last four starts in the series, going 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA and making it through at least five innings just once. Holland has still fared well against Coco Crisp (4 for 23) and Josh Reddick (2 for 11).
Holland will be trying to guide the Rangers (22-16) to their first game in more than a week of allowing fewer than five runs. They've gone 4-2 in that span because of some strong offensive showings, and the rotation has been strong enough with a 3.58 ERA, but the bullpen has posted a 6.75 mark.
Texas still managed to take two of three from Toronto over the weekend with Sunday's 7-6 win. Nomar Mazara was 2 for 4 and is 6 for 15 in his last four games, while Ian Desmond has heated up by going 10 for 27 with 10 RBIs in his last six.
“They're a very good team, very well-balanced,” A's manager Bob Melvin told MLB's official website. “They have a strong lineup, and we're going to see three lefties on top of it.”
Holland is up against Sean Manaea, who hasn't yet shown he can make it at the big league level. Manaea (0-1, 11.37 ERA) had the worst start yet of his three the last time out, giving up eight runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings of Tuesday's 13-5 loss in Boston.
The 24-year-old was brought to Oakland in the deal that sent Ben Zobrist to Kansas City, but the touted prospect is struggling with location. It's resulted in four home runs in 12 2/3 innings.
“I was just leaving the ball out over the middle, and they were taking advantage of it,” Manaea said. “I felt like I was maybe getting inside, but looking back on it, I was pretty much throwing right down the middle. It's frustrating, because I know I'm a lot better than this.”
Oakland (16-22) is relying on him for its first set of consecutive wins since the end of April. The A's took two of three in Tampa Bay over the weekend, including Sunday's 7-6 win, but they're 3-10 this month.
Danny Valencia homered three times in the series finale two days after hitting his first two home runs of the year. The third baseman is batting .405 on a 10-game hitting streak.
“I felt pretty good in the whole series, really,” said Valencia, who had been limited for much of the spring by a strained left hamstring. “I got some good pitches to hit and I didn't miss `em. It's just one of those days, one of those experiences. I've never done that before.”
The Rangers won the last four games against the A's last season, including a three-game sweep from Sept. 22-24 in Oakland.