Rangers-Blue Jays Preview


One victory apparently can do a lot to change a mindset.

Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers try to further some new-found momentum Friday night when the AL West leaders open a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Darvish (12-8, 4.54 ERA) has his first opportunity to set a Rangers rookie record for victories. The right-hander has been uneven since the All-Star break but grinded out a win Sunday against Detroit, allowing three runs while walking five in 6 2-3 innings as he gave up fewer than six runs for the first time in four starts.

"Everything is going in a good direction, and I want to continue doing that in my next start," Darvish told the team's official website after throwing 120 pitches. "I'm trying to go back to my true self and also trying new things. Those are both things that are going to be beneficial, so I think I'm going to take both of those into consideration going forward."

High pitch counts have been the norm for Darvish, who is tied for the AL lead with 79 walks and has logged 110 or more pitches in 14 of 22 starts. He has beaten Toronto twice this year, including an efficient 97-pitch effort at Rogers Centre on April 30 when he limited the Blue Jays to one run while striking out nine in seven innings of a 4-1 win.

Darvish, who joined Chris Young (2005), Kevin Brown (1989) and Ed Correa (1986) as the team's other rookie 12-game winners, posted his other victory over Toronto at home May 27 after allowing three runs in five innings.

A 13th victory may be easier for Darvish to come by if the Rangers (68-49) can duplicate their offensive outburst from Thursday's 10-6 win over New York to avoid a sweep of a four-game series by the AL East frontrunners.

Craig Gentry had a two-run tiebreaking single and Adrian Beltre drove in three runs for Texas, which had scored four times in the previous three games.

"Today, it was just a lot of offense," Michael Young, who had two hits, told the team's official website. "Obviously, we would have liked to have done better in the first three games, but we're glad to get out of here with a win today."

Ian Kinsler likely will be back in the lineup as he tries to end a 4-for-35 slump over his last nine games. The second baseman, though, is a .183 hitter in 27 games at Rogers Centre with 25 strikeouts in 109 at-bats.

He is also hitless in two at-bats versus Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ (1-1, 6.35), who appears to have settled in after being acquired in a 10-player trade from Houston on July 20. The left-hander got his first win with the Blue Jays on Sunday, giving up four runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-7 victory over the Yankees.

Happ was drilled in losing his only start to the Rangers, giving up seven runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings June 20, 2011.

The injury-ravaged Blue Jays (55-63) have faded from playoff contention, dropping the final three of a four-game set with Chicago after Thursday's 7-2 loss. Toronto has lost 14 of 18, scoring only 53 runs as it scuffles without regulars Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie.

Additionally, Edwin Encarnacion - leading Toronto with 30 homers and 80 RBIs - is day-to-day after sitting out Thursday with shoulder and wrist pain.