Farmer de­liv­ers walk-off dou­ble as Dodgers sweep

The26-year-old knocks in two runs against Giants in his ma­jor league de­but.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Andy McCul­lough


The text mes­sage reached Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts on Thurs­day night, soon af­ter word leaked about the team calling up a rookie named Kyle Farmer. When Alex Wood heard the news, he wrote to his man­ager to ex­tol the virtues of Farmer, his for­mer team­mate at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia. He raved about Farmer’s pres­ence and his makeup.

“And,” Wood ended the mes­sage, “he’s clutch.”

He had to wait three games on the bench, but Farmer needed only one at­bat to live up to Wood’s scout­ing re­port. In the 11th in­ning of a 3-2 vic­tory over the San Fran­cisco Giants on Sun­day, Farmer stepped to the plate with a pair of run­ners aboard and one out. It was his ma­jor league de­but. He was the last po­si­tion player left on the Dodgers bench. He had waited 26 years and five mi­nor league sea­sons for this night. He did not waste it.

When reliever Al­bert Suarez fired a 3-2 fast­ball, Farmer was ready. He stung a dou­ble into the right-field cor­ner. Corey Sea­ger scored from sec­ond base. Justin Turner chugged home from first. And Farmer raised his arms with glee in the mid­dle of Dodger Sta­dium, a build­ing shak­ing with noise, as an avalanche en­gulfed him.

The first team­mate Farmer saw was Wood. His old room­mate tack­led him near sec­ond base. Two dozen Dodgers joined the pile, a eu­phoric cel­e­bra­tion of the team’s eighth vic­tory in a row.

“Oh, gosh,” Farmer said. “It feels awe­some. That was a pretty cool mo­ment for me and the team.”

“Sur­real,” Farmer called the scene. Wood said he could not re­call a cooler mo­ment in his ca­reer. Roberts could only shake his head.

“I don’t know what else I can say?” Roberts said. “How else can you de­scribe this ball­club?”

All th­ese Dodgers (74-31) do, it seems, is win.

On Sun­day, the of­fense came back from a one-run deficit in the ninth and an­other in the 11th. Farmer re­ceived a cur­tain call af­ter a game that lasted just shy of four hours. Ear­lier in the night, Hyun-Jin Ryu matched Giants ace Madison Bum­gar­ner for seven score­less in­nings. Both starters lim­ited their op­po­nents to five hits. Each man struck out seven.

Ryu ben­e­fited from stel­lar de­fense be­hind him. The Dodgers tied a fran­chise record by turn­ing six dou­ble plays. Four oc­curred with Ryu on the mound, in­clud­ing a run-sav­ing throw by En­rique Her­nan­dez in the sev­enth in­ning.

Once Ryu and Bum­gar­ner de­parted, the of­fenses showed life. Giants third base­man Conor Gil­laspie pun­ished reliever Josh Fields with a solo shot in the eighth. The Dodgers evened the score in the ninth. Chase Ut­ley led off with an in­field sin­gle, then stole sec­ond base. He scored on a sin­gle by Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers loaded the bases in the ninth but Cody Bellinger popped up to send the game into ex­tras.

As the evening wore on, Her­nan­dez turned to Farmer in the dugout.

“Dude,” Her­nan­dez joked, “this game has Kyle Farmer writ­ten all over it. You’re go­ing to win this game.”

“I know,” Farmer told his new team­mate.

He had ar­rived on Fri­day as a cu­ri­ous ad­di­tion to the ros­ter. Farmer joined the team as the third catcher. He can also play var­i­ous spots in the in­field, but his pres­ence freed up Roberts to use Austin Barnes and Yas­mani Gran­dal as pinch-hit­ters ear­lier in games.

And Farmer had raked in the mi­nors. He hit his way out of dou­ble-A Tulsa with an .879 on-base-plus-slug­ging per­cent­age. He sus­tained his pro­duc­tion with triple-A Ok­la­homa City, bat­ting .316 with six homers and 13 dou­bles in 48 games.

“He’s so great in the club­house, so well-liked,” Roberts said. “You saw the way the play­ers re­sponded to him.”

An in-game ma­neu­ver by Roberts cre­ated an open­ing for Farmer. Roberts dou­bled-switched first base­man Bellinger out of the game in the 10th. An in­ning later, af­ter Joe Panik pulled the Giants ahead with an RBI sin­gle off reliever Luis Avi­lan, Bellinger’s spot came up in the bat­ting or­der.

Sea­ger had dou­bled off Suarez. The Giants in­ten­tion­ally walked Turner. It was up to Farmer. He did not dis­ap­point.

In the melee after­ward, Farmer stood with his jer­sey un­but­toned, flash­ing his bare chest and ruddy cheeks to the crowd. His par­ents had flown from Ge­or­gia to see his first week­end in the ma­jors. They laughed about miss­ing their flight home. They couldn’t care less. Farmer gave the ball from his first hit to his fa­ther.

As Farmer spoke with re­porters, bench coach Bob Geren slipped be­hind him and placed the night’s lineup in his locker. In a sea­son stocked with in­deli­ble mem­o­ries, Farmer had cre­ated one of his own.

“That mo­ment right there,” Roberts said, “Kyle’s go­ing to re­mem­ber it for­ever.”

Kevork Djansezian Getty Im­ages

KYLE FARMER hits a game-win­ning dou­ble.

Kevork Djansezian Getty Im­ages

DODGERS TEAM­MATES rip apart Kyle Farmer’s shirt af­ter he hits a walk-off, two-run dou­ble.

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