Geovany Soto keeps Yu Darvish loose, calm

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There was a time last season, when Yu Darvish was in a tight jam, that catcher Geovany Soto called time and trotted to the mound.

The catcher told Darvish to count to 10 in English.

"Then I asked him to count backwards and to do it in Japanese," Soto said. "He laughed. That's when I knew he was relaxed and ready to go at it again."

Besides helping Darvish call a game that keeps opposing hitter off-balance and puts the Texas Rangers in position to win, Soto is also in charge of keeping Darvish calm in high-pressure moments.

"I think he was a really important factor in my success last half of my season last year," Darvish said through an interpreter. "We had really good communication last year."

The numbers show that to be the case. Darvish's stretch of eight starts in the final two months of the season were his best of the season. Soto was behind the plate for all of them. In fact, Darvish had a 2.35 ERA and an opponent batting average of .176 with Soto behind the plate. With anyone else as his backstop? 4.57 ERA and .238 opponent batting average. All of Darvish's stats -- WHIP, strikeout-to-walk ratio, quality starts -- went up with Soto back there. Darvish deserves much of the credit, but Soto should get his share too.

"They seem to think the same and seem to be on the same page," manager Ron Washington said. "They have chemistry. I think it clicked pretty good with he and Soto from the beginning."

Soto said he just wants to help Darvish continue what he did last year.

"He's got great stuff and I want to keep him focused, but relaxed on what he's doing," Soto said. "When I go out there and hum or say something and he gives me a weird look, I know I've gotten him out of his mode and he can reset and get ready. He's got all the pitches and knows how to get guys out."

ESPN Stats & Information's Steven Martinez contributed to this blog entry.