Already two things to like about Kershaw

First, he likes Toby Keith. His intro song as he was warming up in the first inning was How Do You Like Me Now? Second, he starts early. First pitch was officially 1:09 p.m. … He just started his career by striking out Skip Schumaker on a high fastball.

Here’s the lineup

LF Pierre
2B Maza
RF Ethier
C Martin
1B Loney
CF Kemp
3B DeWitt
SS Hu
LH Kershaw

A telling statistic

Someone ran across this little tidbit this morning: From May 16 through last night, a span of eight games over nine days, the Dodgers have exactly EIGHT extra-base hits. That is last in the majors, and half as much as the next-lowest total, 16 by Arizona (which goes a long way toward explaining why the Dodgers have actually been GAINING ground on the Snakes even though they haven’t been hitting well). The Dodgers have scored 26 runs in those eight games, an average of 3.25/game. But over the past three games, during which they have gone 0-21 with RISP, they have scored just six runs. Five of those came in Wednesday night’s win over the Reds, and three of THOSE scored on a wild pitch, a passed ball and that play where Johnny Cueto turned around and fired a pickoff throw into the second row behind first base. Another one scored on a well executed suicide squeeze by Chin-lung Hu. And yet somehow, in those eight games beginning May 16, the Dodgers are a respectable 4-4. That could bode well if this offense ever gets untracked — and if it ever finds a way to stay consistent with Furcal out of the lineup.

Cardinals 4, Dodgers 0

The most interesting thing that happened when the Dodgers were batting tonight was that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made a dizzying array of double switches, leading one to wonder whether he is even capable of making a straight-up, pitcher-for-pitcher pitching change. The other thing you have to wonder is where the Dodgers’ offense has gone. The boys are now hitless in their past 21 at-bats w/RISP, and they were never really in this one at any point. Not to put too much pressure on Clayton Kershaw in his big-league debut tomorrow, but it is on his shoulders to prevent the Dodgers from being swept by the Cardinals, a team that has pretty much owned them for at least the five years that I have been on the beat. Beginning with my first year, 2004, the Dodgers are 8-24 against the Redbirds. … Dodgers fall to 25-23 and remain 3 1/2 behind the Snakes.

Andruw Jones to go ahead with surgery

it’s an arthroscopic procedure, called a debridement, to repair a tear of the medial meniscus (that’s cartilage, from what I understand) in his right knee. He’ll be out four to six weeks, and while the down time might not help him, it certainly isn’t going to hurt him — or the Dodgers — given the year he is having. Surgery will be performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Jones was placed on the 15-day DL just before game time. The club will purchase the contract of versatile utility man Terry Tiffee, who is having an outstanding season at Triple-A Las Vegas. To make room for him on the 40, Nomar goes to the 60-day DL, which tells you won’t be back ANYTIME soon.

Kent back in the lineup now

Because there was a misunderstanding between Jeff Kent and Joe Torre that resulted in Kent coming to the park today expecting to play, he has been added back into the lineup. He’ll take tomorrow off, then return on Monday at Chicago. … Rafael Furcal isn’t going to Chicago and probably isn’t going to New York, either. The main reason is that the flights out and back are long, and they are worried that his back will tighten up. “I would think he would have to be really, really good and really, really certain before we would put him on a plane (for New York later in the week),” Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. … In an attempt to maximize their viewing audience by having the two largest media markets in the country — and an obvious attempt to stick it to travel-weary beat writers who have early flights home on Monday morning — ESPN has picked up next Sunday’s game in New York, which means it is now a night game that begins at 8:05 p.m. New York time. Good thing I wasn’t planning on flying home that evening.

Esteban Loaiza likely done with Dodgers

He will be designated for assignment today. This probably means the end of his time with the Dodgers, unless he 1) clears waivers; 2) isn’t traded; and 3) accepts an assignment to the minor leagues. It seems a little farfetched that all three of those things would happen. This is still a decent big-league pitcher with a lot of experience, so I can’t imagine there won’t be SOME team out there that is interesting in picking him up. … To make room for Kershaw, whose contract will be purchased later today, the team will option Yhency Brazoban to the Triple-A Las Vegas. The Loaiza move won’t open a roster spot because Esteban is on the 15-day disabled list. He is a victim of a roster crunch, more than anything. The Dodgers’ 40-man is full, and that means difficult decisions sometimes have to be made.

Cardinals 2, Dodgers 1

This is one that may haunt the Dodgers for a long time. Before this season, it would have seemed preposterous to pitch around Delwyn Young to get to Andruw Jones with the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth. But now, the only thing preposterous was the fact Joe Torre sent Jones to the plate with the game on the line, whereupon Jones surprised absolutely no one (except maybe Torre) by striking out to end the game with the tying run on third base. This was Jones’ first plate appearance since Sunday, when he struck out three times in four at-bats against the Angels, and he has been utterly lost at the plate all season. He is now hitless in his past eight at-bats, with five strikeouts. … Anyhoo, that was one of nine hitless at-bats w/RISP for the boys tonight in what became a one-run loss. Sounds a little glaring, don’t you think? … Dodgers fall to 25-22 and drop 3 1/2 behind the Snakes.

Kershaw to start Sunday

All indications are that he will be recalled from Jacksonville Sunday morning and start that day’s game against the Cardinals, his major-league debut. The Dodgers begin a 17-day stretch without an off-day tonight, so they’ll need a fifth starter at least the next three times through the rotation, the first time that has happened this season. That makes this a good time to call him up and get him started, because he can start on a regular basis without having his routine interrupted. Not sure what will happen after that. He will likely fly to Los Angeles tomorrow. That means Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda will each be pushed back a day, so the Kuroda-Fukudome matchup won’t happen until Tuesday.

Furcal has a setback

Both Joe Torre and Stan Conte used the term “square one,” but they used it in a positive sense — as in, Rafael Furcal ISN’T back to square one. But he also isn’t close to where he was just 48 hours ago. He woke up yesterday morning with stiffness in his back, so he won’t be back tonight and he probably won’t be back for at least a few days. Good thing Chin-lung Hu has, in the words of Torre, “been a lot more comfortable to watch” these past few games. … As for Andruw Jones, he feels good and is going to give it a go. He’ll come off the bench this weekend, then probably return to the lineup on Monday at Chicago. However, he acknowledged there is a chance his knee problem will return, and he said that if it does, there is “no doubt” he will go ahead with the surgery. Conte said there is precedent for a player with this injury making it all the way through the season before getting the surgery. Happened with Doug Mirabelli, who was the Giants’ backup catcher one year while Stan was the trainer there.