Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 1: Boston first to 20 wins after surviving missed opportunities

USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox became the first team to reach 20 wins in 2013 Thursday night as they took down the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1.

The Boston Red Sox are the first team to reach 20 wins in the 2013 season after defeating the Blue Jays 3-1 in Toronto.

The win would come despite one of the most wasteful performances the offense has produced this season. J.A. Happ was a far cry from the dominant pitcher who shut the Red Sox down in his first outing of the season, gifting them baserunner after baserunner, but the Sox rarely managed to take full advantage.

They would, however, manage to cash in on their first opportunity. After Brett Lawrie misjudged Mike Napoli's low line drive, allowing the first baseman to start the second with a leadoff double, the Red Sox got a one-out walk from Will Middlebrooks, single from Mike Carp, and sacrifice fly from Stephen Drew to score a pair of runs.

For the next few innings, it was all stranded baserunners. A leadoff double went for naught as the Sox stranded two in the third, and then they pulled off the remarkable feat of drawing for walks in the fourth without scoring thanks to a David Ross double play mixed in. The fifth would be slightly less dramatic, with only Daniel Nava's one-out double going by the wayside, but through five innings the Sox had stranded a remarkable eight baserunners.

The good news was that their failure to maximize their opportunities hadn't left them behind. Like the Red Sox, the Blue Jays had gotten off to a hot start, with Brett Lawrie taking Ryan Dempster deep to center field on just his third pitch of the game. Dempster would get out of the first, but it was clear after a very shaky second inning which included three loud fly balls that he wasn't quite on his game yet. A three-walk third inning, saved only by an Edwin Encarnacion double play, seemed to drive home that fact.

From there, however, it was a different story for Dempster. Dominant is hardly the right word, but the second half of his game was completely different. Finally able to locate his fastball, Dempster allowed just one single in the fourth-through-sixth innings, striking out four batters in the process.

The Red Sox would finally score again in the sixth on a fly ball single that dropped in down the left field line, and given that Andrew Miller entered the game in the seventh it seemed like that run might be important. Miller would again prove untrustworthy, allowing two baserunners in the process of recording two outs, but Junichi Tazawa came in and managed to strike out Adam Lind with the bases loaded to get the game into the eighth. Koji Uehara had a rather easier time of things there, giving the Red Sox just one inning to go with a two run lead.

That inning would end up falling not to Andrew Bailey, but to Joel Hanrahan, prompting a sharp intake of breath from Sox fans everywhere. And after a leadoff single it certainly felt like it might end up being one of those nights. Hanrahan fought back to pick up a pop-up for out number one, however, and got Munenori Kawasaki to ground into a double play to end the game, giving the Red Sox win number 20.

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