"I knew I had a no-hitter," Darvish said.
It didn't last, but Darvish was nonetheless magnificent. He threw seven innings of one-hit, one-run ball in a 4-2 win against the Brewers, with his only blemish being Justin Smoak's one-out homer in his final inning of work.
Darvish left after throwing 104 pitches, which was 11 more than in any other start of his this season. He knew the seventh inning would be his final frame.
"I knew I wasn't going nine innings because of my pitch count," Darvish said. "So I just tried to keep the game close."
Darvish had a deep arsenal of pitches, and he made a bit of a tweak in baffling the Brewers. He began throwing his knuckle curveball early in the count, he said. He credited it for helping make him "better."
Cubs manager David Ross was impressed by all of his pitches.
"I thought Yu had a really good command of his offspeed stuff tonight," Ross said. "The breaking ball was working. So were the slider and cutter. They didn't have a whole lot of good swings against him until that homer from Smoak. I thought he commanded everything well, especially that offspeed stuff early."
The Cubs scored runs in the first and second innings, then added two more in the sixth as they were in control throughout. Rowan Wick gave up two hits and a run in the ninth inning but worked around it to earn his third save after the tying run came to the plate.
The Cubs improved to an MLB-best 13-3 with the win. That represents their best start since 1907, when they won the World Series.
"For me, the reason we are doing well is a very good mood in the clubhouse," Darvish said. "We are helping each other."