The Boston Red Sox needed to undergo an unforgettable regular season campaign before being crowned 2013 World Series champions in October.

The road from worst to first wasn’t smooth sailing, but did include plenty of Hallmark-caliber moments. Whether it was David Ortiz’s strongly-worded speech or Daniel Nava’s iconic go-ahead home run versus the Kansas City Royals, the Red Sox turned a redemption campaign into an all-time year to remember.

But again, before October, there’s a 162-game journey that ended with a cherry-on-top moment to mark the first step in reaching Fall Classic glory.

Rewinding the tape, that stepping stone came on Sept. 20. The Red Sox hosted the Toronto Blue Jays, just a win shy of clinching the American League East. Boston’s ace Jon Lester took the bump and went to work. Lester threw seven innings, holding the Blue Jays to one run off five hits while striking out eight, giving the Red Sox a commendable effort before handing off to the bullpen.

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Boston defeated Toronto, 6-3, marking the 100th career victory for Lester, a special one that sparked a night-long celebration at Fenway Park.

In the process, Lester recorded his fourth consecutive seven-plus inning start, going 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in September to end the year and enter October. For Boston fans, that was just typical to expect Lester to deliver when the stakes are raised, having done so in plenty of instances in a Red Sox uniform.

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“He’s pitching as well right now as he has at any time in his career I think,” former Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters postgame, per MassLive. “Look at not only the bottom-line performance, but the stuff that he’s thrown. The durability and the stamina that he’s showing. He’s in a very good place right now. There was some thought of taking him out after six innings. He was adamant he was going back out for the seventh. On a night when he knocked down his own 100th personal win, he earned that one tonight.”

Taking ownership of the divsion crown booked home-field advantage for the Band of Bearded Brothers throughout the postseason, giving the Red Sox a chance to do something they hadn’t done since 1918: win the World Series at Fenway Park.

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As the story goes, Boston went 11-5 in playoff play, raised the Commissioner’s Trophy at home and took “Boston Strong” to a whole new level.

There were plenty of snapshot moments throughout Boston’s 2013 playoff run, but the importance of securing the AL East can’t do understated.

Featured image via David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports Images