ATLANTA — You couldn't tell the Cardinals were getting ready for their first postseason game in four years during Wednesday's work out at SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
Other than the "NLDS" signage and increased media presence it could've been a lazy mid-June game between the Cardinals and Braves.
The Cardinals are loose and confident heading into Thursday's match-up, and it all starts with their Game 1 starting pitcher.
Miles Mikolas has always been kind of an eccentric, happy-go-lucky guy with the Cardinals. It turns out playoff Miles Mikolas is no different. He's just ready for the moment.
"Starting from day one playing wiffleball in the backyard you're dreaming of that playoff atmosphere," Mikolas said. "It's something that me and a lot of the players have been working towards our whole lives so I'm just ready to enjoy it. Enjoy it, soak it in and have fun out there."
It's easy for guys to get blinded by the lights of the postseason, especially in their first trip there. Mikolas' personality should help him avoid those pitfalls.
"I think it's a good personality to have because the postseason is supposed to be fun. The last thing you want to do is tighten up and get too nervous and I think the element of looseness helps with that," Mikolas said. "We're all on a heightened state of alert. All hands on deck. Anything you have to do. Every inch, every centimeter. This is the time of year it all adds up. To have that little voice in the back of your head to say you're going to do all that but have fun and have a smile on your face as well I think makes it a more natural feeling to go out there and compete."
Make no mistake, though. Looseness and lack of focus aren't in any correlation for this club.
"I want to come out there, be aggressive, do what I do best and go from there," Mikolas said. "The first couple hitters will set the tone for our offense and I'm going to set the tone for our pitching staff."
"It's (being loose) not anything we talked about. I think if you talk about it it feels forced. It's just who we are," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "It's not kumbaya and that kind of thing, nothing wrong with that. But we also have some focus to what's going on, too. We do want to enjoy what's going on and we've talked about that all season. We've been able to do it and create that balance."
The final NLDS roster for the Cardinals hasn't been released yet, but there will be quite a few guys hitting the field Thursday night who have never experienced postseason baseball before.
We'll have to see if that looseness results in an NLDS series lead after Game 1 for the Cardinals.