In recent seasons, Red Sox pitchers have struggled to limit baserunners from swiping the extra bag. Last season, Josh Beckett allowed 31 stolen bases under his watch. John Lackey fared much worse, surrendering 33 bag swipes.
When discussing the strategy, Valentine attributed the lackluster fundamentals to past Red Sox pitching coaches –– likely referring to Curt Young and John Farrell –– and their philosophies of focusing solely on hitters.
"I hear — and this might be real wrong — I hear there were a couple of pitching coaches here who said it didn't matter," the Red Sox skipper said. "They just got away from doing it. I understand. I told you guys; I played with Nolan Ryan. I coached Dwight Gooden. I coached Tom Seaver. No one was ever more staunch advocates of 'Who gives a [expletive] if they get to second base?' It was in a different era.
"If you can keep them on first and get a double play, a lot of times, that means a whole 'nother inning. It means an entire other inning that starter could pitch," Valentine added. "If he goes to second and you get the next three guys out and you use your arsenal, a lot of times, that's your last inning. That's a big difference in today's game."
Before Tuesday's game against the Red Sox, Farrell disputed Valentine's assertion. The Blue Jays manager said in Boston they dedicated "a tremendous amount" of time to limiting the running game.
"If you look over the last four or five years, the running game has become much more prevalent with some approaches by a given team," Farrell said. "Yet, at the same time, you want to be sure that — If you spend a lot of time focusing on the guy at first, the next thing you know, they're all jogging around the bases.
"The pitch execution was the priority. That's not to distance the need to control the running game. Guys evolve in that area at a different rate and at a different pace. First and foremost, that they're executing a game plan is the priority."
This year, Boston has its third pitching coach in as many years. Bob McClure was tapped to replace Young in December.