Jesse Chavez knows his way around a baseball transaction. Since being selected in the 42nd round of the 2002 Draft, he's been traded four times, claimed off waivers once and most recently had his contract purchased by the A's from the Blue Jays system on Aug. 24.
So what, if anything, would make the most recent move any different than ones in the past? Well, a more relaxed Chavez, for one.
"I wasn't trying to put any extra pressure on myself this time around," said the right-hander, who was assigned to Triple-A Sacramento. "Maybe in the past, I would come trying to do too much to impress people and that would become a problem. You know, once the ball's out of your hand, there's nothing else you can do to control it. That's basically been my thinking."
It worked Thursday night in just his third game with the River Cats.
Chavez took a perfect game into the sixth and went on to strike out 10 over eight four-hit innings as Sacramento blanked Reno, 1-0, to tie its Pacific Coast League semifinal series at one win apiece.
The best-of-5 series shifts to Reno for the final three games, if necessary.
The 29-year-old California native was able to be so dominant in the early innings because of his impressive accuracy. He didn't throw a ball out of the strike zone until the second inning and set down the first 12 Aces on 34 pitches, 30 of which were strikes.
"I really felt like I had it going early on there," said Chavez, who employs a two-seamer, cutter, changeup, curveball and slider. "I was making good location and I felt like all five pitches were really on. That gave me a little extra confidence there."
Chavez ran into trouble in the sixth. After striking out Tyler Bortnick and Ryan Budde, he gave up an infield single to No. 9 hitter Wladimir Sutil that broke up the perfect game. At the time, it seemed relatively harmless, even though the River Cats were clinging to a 1-0 lead.
"I kind of chuckled a little bit, I'm not going to lie," Chavez said. "But that's their job, to get hits, so you can't be mad or upset about it."
A.J. Pollock followed with another single and Chavez walked Tyler Kuhn on four pitches to load the bases. River Cats pitching coach Scott Emerson visited the mound, but he didn't have much to say.
"We really didn't talk about anything," Chavez said. "He just wanted to take my mind off what was going at that moment. Mostly, it was just a reminder to collect myself and stay in the zone."
The right-hander got Josh Bell to fly out to center on the next pitch and gave up only two more hits -- a double to Mike Jacobs in the seventh and another single to Pollock in the eighth.
In his first two starts in the A's organization, Chavez allowed two runs on eight hits and fanned nine across 10 innings. With the Blue Jays, he was 1-1 with an 8.44 ERA in nine appearances, including two starts, this season. He also had 19 outings for Triple-A Las Vegas, going 8-5 with a 3.98 ERA. Ironically, Chavez's last start for the 51s came against his new teammates, when he allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings on Aug. 21.
"The transition here was really easy," he said. "Coming over here after just having played these guys, that kind of helped. But they've been a good group of guys, too, and have made it easy on me here."
The River Cats' only run came after what some at Raley Field suggested was a blown call.
Jemile Weeks lined what he thought was a double to left field in the third inning, only to have the ball called foul. He returned to the plate and deposited a pitch from Aces starter Daniel Cabrera over the center-field fence.
"Everyone seemed to think it was a fair ball," Chavez said. "But after the home run, we were pretty happy it wasn't."
In other Pacific Coast League playoff action:
Albuquerque 5, Omaha 3
Josh Fields and Trent Oeltjen each drove in a pair of runs as the Isotopes erased an early three-run deficit to square the other semifinal series at 1-1.
Stephen Fife got the win after limiting the Storm Chasers to three runs on seven hits over seven innings.
Max Ramirez drilled a two-run homer in the second to provide the bulk of Omaha's offense. Gameday box score