Yu Darvish's name was announced at Petco Park in San Diego to begin the bottom of the third inning on Wednesday afternoon, and "Intoxicated," a popular house song by Martin Solveig and GTA, blared over the speakers.
Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who famously uses that song as his walk-up music, threw his arms up in the air in mock disgust. Darvish, the former Cubs starter in his first season with the San Diego Padres, cracked a big smile as he approached the batter's box.
Darvish, making his first start against the Cubs since an offseason trade, wasn't trolling Rizzo.
He was paying homage.
"I used that song because it was Rizzo who kind of took care of me when things weren't really working my way in Chicago," Darvish said through his interpreter after the Padres' 3-1 loss. "It was, in a way, to say 'thank you' to him. And obviously I have a good relationship with him."
Darvish continued his remarkable season in the rematch against his former team, allowing only two runs over seven innings to put his ERA at 2.28 through his first 13 starts with his new team. But the Padres, collectively struggling offensively in recent weeks, lost for the 10th time in their past 17 games.
Darvish, 34, finished second in National League Cy Young Award voting last year and has been among the game's best pitchers since the start of the 2020 season, going 14-5 with a 2.15 ERA, 185 strikeouts and only 33 walks in 155 innings.
Darvish's time with the Cubs got off to a rough start. He joined them on a six-year, $126-million contract in February 2018 and was limited to only eight starts that season. But he turned it around in 2019, posting a 3.98 ERA in 178⅔ innings, then reached another level in the pandemic-shortened season.
"Looking back, I had some ups and downs in Chicago," Darvish said. "Good times and bad times, looking in retrospect. But what I find is that the fans, the organization, and even the media members there -- I had tremendous amount of support to get through my years there. So there's a sense of, I guess, gratefulness there."