How the O's can win the AL East

Five steps for Baltimore to capture its first division title in nearly two decades

Updated: August 11, 2014, 2:52 PM ET
By Paul Swydan | ESPN Insider

Adam JonesOtto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesThe Orioles need to ensure a rare chance at a division title doesn't fall through their grasp.

In taking two of three games from the Toronto Blue Jays last week, the Baltimore Orioles have begun to blow the doors off the AL East. Their win in the series opener against Toronto last Tuesday marked the first time since 1997 that the team held a five-game lead in the division. That's right: The O's haven't held a lead this big since before the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays were in existence. As such, there is a great deal of optimism surrounding the team and its chances.

But there's still plenty of time left. For the Orioles to keep the good times rolling and win the division without too much of a fight, they'll need to follow a five-step plan. 

Here's how the Orioles can win the AL East:

1. Limit the starts by Miguel Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez

The Orioles finally did the obvious Sunday when they optioned Gonzalez back to the minors instead of Kevin Gausman. Gausman hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire -- his 101 FIP- -- over the past 30 days is exactly league average. But he's been much better than Gonzalez.

Over both the past month and the whole season, Gonzalez has the worst FIP- on a not-so-stellar pitching staff, so sending him down is the right move. Jimenez hasn't been much better -- the former Colorado Rockies ace has been frustratingly bad again this season.