Cespedes has changed Oakland's plan

Updated: July 22, 2012, 1:13 PM ET
By Buster Olney

In recent years, the New York Yankees have provided a barometer for the Oakland Athletics. Even when the Athletics were playing well, the Yankees tended to go into Oakland and overmatch their younger opponents; when the Athletics went into Yankee Stadium, well, forget it. They often looked intimidated and simply not ready for the stage.

So the ongoing series between the Athletics and Yankees is especially noteworthy. Oakland has won the first three games of the four-game series, limiting the Yankees to six runs. On Sunday, when Bartolo Colon pitches against CC Sabathia, Oakland could close out a sweep of the team that is running away with the AL East. As of Sunday morning, the A's are tied for one of two wild-card spots.

The Athletics have the best team ERA in the American League and not by a small margin. Their bullpen has been spectacular, holding opposing hitters to a .202 batting average. And they have their version of a Josh Hamilton, a Robinson Cano, a Mark Trumbo in Yoenis Cespedes.