When Memphis' Jaime Garcia first toed the mound Tuesday night, the lefty wasn't concerned with the Redbirds' perfect playoff record or how his arm would hold in his sixth start since undergoing Tommy John surgery.
"I was just going out there and doing my best," Garcia said. "Especially in games like [Tuesday], you don't think about anything else but giving the team a chance to win."
His singular approach paid off, as Garcia allowed just three hits over 6 2/3 innings in Memphis' 1-0 triumph over Sacramento in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series at AutoZone Park.
Garcia used his bag of pitches -- which includes a breaking ball, slider, curve and fastball -- to keep the River Cats' batters baffled, while David Freese's solo homer in the sixth inning provided all the offense needed.
Freese also went 2-for-2 and scored the lone run in the Redbirds' last playoff game, a 1-0 win over Albuquerque that secured a semifinals sweep.
"I was pretty pumped up," Garcia admitted of starting the opener of the Pacific Coast League's final showdown. "I was just thinking, 'OK, go out there one pitch at a time, try to make pitches.'"
"[The River Cats] have a real good team, a lot of real good hitters. You can't think [Freese's homer would be enough] you just got to go pitch-by-pitch."
And with each successful toss in the 98-pitch effort, Garcia (2-0) made the latest stride in what has been a season of small steps toward regaining optimum performance. After a long rehab, he made the first of four regular-season appearances for the Redbirds on Aug. 18 and finished with a 2-0 record and a 3.86 ERA. The southpaw turned in a solid performance in Game 1 of the league semifinals against Albuquerque, striking out six and tossing 5 1/3 shutout innings to pick up his first postseason win.
"I think [my arm] has been progressing and getting better and better," said Garcia, who went 7-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 19 Minor League games last season before pitching to a 5.63 ERA in 10 outings in the Majors.
"I'm trying to get [the injury] out of my head and try to get out there and do my best."
Garcia has allowed one earned run over 11 2/3 innings in the postseason, striking out 13 and walking six.
"Every time I go out, [I'm] just trying to keep the ball on the ground, keep the ball down and keep us in the game," he said. "I don't think about striking everybody out or throwing eight, nine innings. I just take it pitch by pitch and execute pitches."
After a trio of relievers combined to finish off the seventh and eighth innings, Pete Parise notched his third save of the playoffs for the Redbirds. Sacramento starter and former Redbird Chris Gissell took the loss after allowing one run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.