ARLINGTON — Geovany Soto doesn’t have a particular reason why he works well with Yu Darvish, but it’s a tandem that has done well the past two seasons.Darvish went into his start Tuesday with a 2.63 ERA in 22 starts with Soto behind the plate. Manager Ron Washington likes pairing the two together, too, but was reluctant to anoint Soto as Darvish’s personal catcher even though he had the two working for a fourth consecutive start.“It’s an opportunity for Soto to get a game,” Washington said. “Anything else I say, I’m going to lead down a path I don’t want to go.”Darvish has similar numbers with Soto and A.J. Pierzynski catching him and has repeatedly said he doesn’t have a preference at catcher.Still, Soto seems to have found a way to help Darvish work through games such as last Thursday in Tampa Bay when it appeared he might not get through five innings.Soto said he tries to stay positive and upbeat during mound visits, although his demeanor varies depending on the pitcher. Sometimes, Soto said, he has to give a guy a pat on the back, while other times a “kick in the butt.”“You’ve just got to know who you’re dealing with,” Soto said. “You’ve got to be a sports psychologist out there.”Washington praised the way Soto has handled his role this season. Not only has he worked well with the pitching staff, but has also brought a positive attitude despite going from what appeared to be an everyday job to a backup role.Soto has also come through with timely hits when he has been in the lineup, including a walk-off homer.“He’s been a pro,” Washington said. “He doesn’t complain about anything. All he wants to do is win. When he gets his chance to play, he’s ready. As a manager, those are the types of players you want.”Soto will become a free agent after the season and Washington said he’d like to see him return. Soto also expressed interest in a reunion, although those decisions will come during the off-season.Perez growingIn his final three starts last season, Martin Perez went four innings in two of them and two-thirds of an inning in the other. This year, though, Perez is a different pitcher.He’s matured and gained experience in his first full season in the big leagues. He’s gone at least five innings in his last 10 starts, which includes a six-game winning streak.Perez is now set to take the mound in a pivotal game with playoff ramifications Wednesday and is also in line to start a potential tie-breaker game.“I just want to think about what I have to do [tonight],” Perez said. “You have to win first and see what happens. If they give me the opportunity to pitch that [possible Game 163], I just want to do my best and stay focused.”200 IP clubDerek Holland passed the 200-inning mark Monday, and Yu Darvish did it Tuesday. It’s the first time in each of their young careers to reach that milestone, and something that speaks to how deep they’ve pitched in their starts.“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Ron Washington said.Holland was particular pleased to reach the 200-inning mark, saying it’s something he set out to do before the season. He credited Jose Vazquez, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, for helping him prepare physically, but also cautioned he hasn’t reached his peak yet.“There’s still more,” Holland said. “There’s always more. I’ve shown a lot of myself with being consistent this year, that was the big thing, but there is always more.”Briefly• Suspended slugger Nelson Cruz has gone 5 for 15 with a home run and four RBIs in his first four instructional-league games in Arizona. Cruz’s suspension ends after the regular season, and he would be eligible to return for a potential tie-breaker or wild-card game.• Derek Holland threw a complete-game shutout Monday on the same night Alex Rios hit for the cycle. They’re just the fifth teammates in the last 100 years to do that, according to Elias Sports Bureau.• Jeff Baker is expected to start Wednesday at designated hitter with the Astros starting left-hander Dallas Keuchel.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison