"It's amazing," Darvish said after leading the Cubs to a 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds. "First win at Wrigley. I was always looking for that first win."
It marked an important step for Darvish since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February 2018.
He spent most of last year on the injured list, then started this season slowly. But after asking for the ball in the Cubs' first game coming out of the All-Star break, Darvish has put together two gems. On Friday, he threw six shutout innings in a no-decision against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On Wednesday, he went six shutout innings again, this time giving up just two hits while striking out seven.
His fastball command has never been better as a Cub, and his breaking pitches continue to fool opposing hitters.
"It's not a fun at-bat," Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said of the few hitters who have reached first base. "Everyone says it ... He just trusts his arm. He's pitching with conviction. He's getting stronger and stronger, more and more comfortable."
Darvish indicated that until recently, despite being healthy, he was favoring his arm angle on his fastball simply because of the pain he used to feel in his elbow. Now he's just letting it fly, using the proper mechanics and delivery.
The results are showing.
He threw a first-pitch strike to 82% of the hitters he faced Wednesday, the second-highest rate of any start in his career. Reds hitters were 1-for-14 with five strikeouts after falling behind 0-1 in the count.
"He still takes some time in between pitches, but how he's spending that time seems to be better," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't think he's wondering what to do next. I think he's calculating what to do next. And when he gets back on the rubber, 'here we go.'"
There might have been no better example of that "here-we-go" attitude than when Yasiel Puig stepped into the batter's box as the tying run, with one man on and two outs in the top of the sixth inning Wednesday. After pitching coach Tommy Hottovoy visited the mound -- building drama to the at-bat -- Darvish came out firing. He threw five pitches to Puig, and three reached 98 mph, including what turned out to be his final pitch of the game -- one that blew Puig away.
Chants of "Yu!" followed as he walked off the mound, showing plenty of emotion after the strikeout.
"The people yelling for him as he comes off the field was awesome," Maddon said. "I know he feels that in a positive way. And he deserved it."
Added Darvish: "I'm almost 120% right now. I don't need anything right now. It's perfect, everything."
That's music to the ears of Cubs fans who have been waiting for this version of Darvish since they said hello to him and goodbye to World Series hero Jake Arrieta two years ago. It has taken a while, but the electric stuff often advertised but sometimes not delivered with Darvish is everything and then some right now.
He's even shocking himself.
"I haven't given up a lot of walks over the last seven or eight starts," said Darvish, who had the game ball from his first Wrigley win next to him at his locker. "I'm surprised by that."
Since the All-Star break, Darvish has totaled 12 innings pitched while giving up just one walk, no runs, four hits and 15 strikeouts.
"He's more of an animal on the mound," Rizzo said. "Grunting there in the sixth, reaching back when he needs it. Being smart. He's got confidence in his fastball. He's fun to play behind."
Darvish has carried a lot of the load while fellow starters Kyle Hendricks and Cole Hamels have dealt with injuries this season. Hamels is due back soon, which would give the Cubs a healthy rotation for the stretch run.
"It's going to be nice to get the band back together," Maddon said.