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For A's, Wild Card feels like 'any other game'

Inexperienced postseason roster remains focused, unfazed by win-or-go-home stakes
MLB.com @JaneMLB

NEW YORK -- The A's have a large assemblage of postseason first-timers on their roster, but to presume the pressure of a playoff atmosphere will rattle them tonight would undermine just how they got to this point.

Nothing seems to faze this group, which rallied for an improbable postseason berth while overcoming a heap of adversity and ignoring outside expectations that penned them for a mediocre campaign.

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NEW YORK -- The A's have a large assemblage of postseason first-timers on their roster, but to presume the pressure of a playoff atmosphere will rattle them tonight would undermine just how they got to this point.

Nothing seems to faze this group, which rallied for an improbable postseason berth while overcoming a heap of adversity and ignoring outside expectations that penned them for a mediocre campaign.

View Full Game Coverage

They play for the day, usually uninterested in the opponent, the setting and any talk surrounding it all. It's the same manner in which they'll treat the American League Wild Card Game within the glorified confines of Yankee Stadium.

:: AL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::

"We know it's not any other game, but it feels like it with the way we are around here," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "This is a great group of guys to battle with in a playoff game. These guys are all pretty laid back, pretty chill, and we're all pretty excited about moving forward."

It starts at the top with Bob Melvin, the always-steady skipper who keeps his players leveled by offering the same approach himself. The longtime manager is facing one of his toughest assignments yet at the helm, preparing to unveil an all-bullpen attack against the Yankees, yet he went through the motions of Tuesday's workout day with the same calm that consistently accompanies him.

"You know, as far as the looseness, it's just kind of the way the group is," Melvin said. "It plays well for us. They don't get too far ahead. Obviously they're going to be excited about this game, but we've been pretty loose all year long, so I don't think we should handle things any differently. We'll go through the same routine out there on the field leading up, and you insulate kind of in your preparation and so forth. It's just the personality of the team."

Video: AL WC: A's on matchup with Yankees in Wild Card Game

A win would earn the A's a trip to Boston for a date with the Red Sox in the AL Division Series. A loss sends them home.

"We're feeling really good," A's third baseman Matt Chapman said. "From being with the guys, it doesn't seem like too much has changed. We're excited to be here and grateful for the opportunity, and just all the work that you've put in throughout the season, it's everything you could ask for.

"There's no really telling what's going to happen [Wednesday]. But I know we're going to show up and we're going to play hard, and we're just excited to see what happens."

Chapman is one of 10 position players without postseason experience at the big league level, a collection that includes baseball's home run leader Khris Davis, who belted 48 of them in his third season with Oakland. The A's finished in last place during his first two years.

"Lot of emotions, so just gotta take it for what it is and go out there and do your job," Davis said. "I'm nervous, but at the same time, I've never been more excited. The stakes are so high. I can feel it already. I'm excited, because this is what I've been working hard for."

"We don't have, maybe, big names or that big lineup," said reliever Jeurys Familia, who pitched in the 2015 World Series for the Mets. "But we have guys that never give up. Every time, every at-bat, these guys always fight. The bullpen's the same. The starting pitchers are the same. That's why we're here."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

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