A's young players thrive in playoff atmosphere

'That's the most fun game I've ever been a part of,' Wendle says

A's young players thrive in playoff atmosphere

SEATTLE -- In extinguishing the Mariners' postseason chances with a lively, 9-8 victory in 10 innings on Saturday night, a baby-faced A's team not only enjoyed an atmosphere unlike any other this year but learned it can thrive in such settings.

The A's roared to the tune of 16 hits in front of a thunderous crowd, half of them collected by Marcus Semien and rookie Joey Wendle, as they put to rest a five-game losing streak at the most inopportune time for the Mariners, who were officially eliminated from the American League Wild Card race with the loss.

"As a player, you thrive in an environment like that," Wendle said. "It was one of those games where you wanted to be up there at the plate. There wasn't a guy that didn't want to be up there or have the ball hit to them."

It just so happened to be Wendle's turn with one out in the 10th inning and fellow rookie Bruce Maxwell standing on second courtesy of a leadoff double. Wendle stared down one strike from young Seattle flamethrower Edwin Diaz, then pounced on the next, sending it to right field for a double of his own to give the A's a lead they fought so hard to maintain all night.

Any life left in the Mariners was robbed by A's closer Ryan Madson, who worked around a leadoff single by Ben Gamel in the bottom half of the frame to put the game -- and Seattle's tentative postseason plans -- to rest.

"Everybody was locked in," Semien said. "The season was on the line for them. Shoot, we're playing for our lives, too. We're playing for our jobs, and we were a little more amped up with that crowd. They did a great job coming back, but we did our thing and fought."

Semien's go-ahead double

The A's have been out of contention for months, their season set to end Sunday with a last-place division finish for a second straight year. Saturday's dramatics, though, offered them a glimpse of what could be.

That so many of their younger players had a hand in playing spoiler proved telling, too.

"The big moment didn't get to them," Semien said. "They stayed calm, they stayed within themselves. That's what we want to play in front of. That's a playoff atmosphere. That's what we want to get to one day. We've got a lot of work to do to get to that point, but the way we played tonight with that crowd was different than we played all season."

"The fans like they were tonight, with the playoffs on the line for them, that was the most unbelievable atmosphere I've ever played in by far, and we just kept fighting," Wendle added. "That's the most fun game I've ever been a part of."

That's exactly what A's manager Bob Melvin envisioned for his rookies during this four-game stay.

"We talked before the series that this was kind of our playoffs," Melvin said, "and to get contributions from so many guys on the roster today, particularly some of the younger guys, this is really going to serve them well in the future knowing that they can play in this type of atmosphere. To be able to win a game like this is big for those guys."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.