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John Farrell, in rare umpire critique, calls strike zone 'horrific' after Red Sox win

BALTIMORE -- It started out with Red Sox manager John Farrell explaining a curious sequence in the seventh inning Friday night in which plate umpire Dana DeMuth called a ball on Red Sox reliever Alexi Ogando for going to his mouth, the umpire contended, while on the rubber, and throwing that ball out of play.

But Farrell didn’t stop there.

“The strike zone tonight was horrific, I’ll be honest with you,’’ Farrell said, referring to the work by veteran umpire and crew chief DeMuth in Boston’s 7-5 win over Baltimore Friday night.

“Dana’s a much better umpire than that, we’ve seen that in the past. Tonight was so inconsistent. A number of pitches not called for strikes, and against us a much bigger strike zone.’’

Farrell, who seldom is this pointed in his criticism of an umpire, took specific exception to the seventh-inning at-bat by Orioles pinch hitter Steve Pearce, who drew a full-count walk from Ogando to load the bases with the score tied at 4.

“He throws a 2-and-2 pitch to Pearce … that was a strike and should have ended the inning right there,’’ Farrell said.

Ogando then engaged in a tense eight-pitch duel with Manny Machado in which Machado fouled two pitches just out of play, Ogando threw two borderline fastballs both called balls, before getting a swing and miss for strike three on another fastball.

“And [DeMuth] misses a pitch against Machado,’’ Farrell contended. “He’s better than that.’’

The Orioles, meanwhile, were upset on a non-strike call to Pablo Sandoval on the first pitch delivered by left-hander Brian Matusz. Sandoval, 0-for-13 this season against left-handers, ultimately walked, Allen Craig reached on an error, and Brock Holt hit a tie-breaking three-run home run.

“The first pitch was a strike,’’ Matusz told reporters. “I mean, it was right down the middle. It wasn't even close.’’

Farrell almost surely will be fined for his comments.