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.