Allegedly, today’s high here was 55. But the wind chill has made it feel much colder than that pretty much all day. We’re talking bone-chilling cold, and I’m sure it’s going to get a lot colder after the sun goes down. It is against that setting that Kosuke Fukudome will face Hiroki Kuroda for the first time in the United States. It also is against that setting that the Dodgers will try to get a few hits in key situations for a change. … Clayton Kershaw is throwing his side session right now (3:04 p.m. local time). … There is a big Miller Lite billboard atop one of the buildings across the street on Sheffield, next to the building with the Eamus Catulii sign, that I’m told changes with every series to show some clever slogan relating to the city of the visiting team. For this series, it says, Our People Will Toast Your People. Kind of funny, I guess, if you really use your imagination. It’s a play on the whole, shallow Hollywood thing. You know, have your people call my people. … Lasorda is supposed to be here to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh-inning stretch tonight.
The Dodgers went 2 for 17 w/RISP. They are now 5 for 46 in their past five games, three of which were losses, two of which were losses by margins of one and two runs. Today, they loaded the bases with one out in both the sixth and eighth innings and didn’t score either time. Each time, it was strikeout, flyout, end of inning. Chad Billingsley continued his recent surge and pitched well enough to win, but didn’t. … Unless Russell Martin talks his way into the starting lineup, something he has been known to try to do on occasion — or unless Martin plays 3B, which is certainly possible — Danny Ardoin will make his major-league debut behind the plate tomorrow night. … BTW, one of my favorite things about Wrigley Field is this hole-in-the-wall burrito joint just up the street. It’s close enough that you can walk there an hour before the game, grab a burrito to go and be back in the press box, all in about 15 minutes. These things are HUMONGOUS, and they only cost about $5.40. As we used to say back home in Arkansas, they are some mighty good eatin’. Anyway, if you’re ever here, it’s called La Burrito Mexicana, and it’s a block east of Wrigley on Addison, just past the El tracks. And really, who when they think of Wrigley Field doesn;t instantly think of burritos? … Boys fall to 26-24 and miss another chance to gain ground on the Snakes, who also lost. The margin remains 3 1/2.
Maza is 7 for 14 since his callup, so Joe said he wanted to go with offense early in hopes the club will put itself in position to go with defense late (i.e., have a lead), in which case Hu will be inserted at SS for Maza. Meanwhile, Loney is hitless in his past 12 ABs, so Mark Sweeney — who, coincidentally, is hitless in his past 10 ABs — is playing 1B.
… there is always SOMEBODY who has it worse. On my bleary-eyed drive from O’Hare to Wrigley Field this morning, I passed a Shell station on Addison. The price for basic unleaded: 4.39/gallon. Just something to think about the next time you’re at a pump in Los Angeles and feeling outraged over paying 4.09/gallon. Actually, never mind. Go ahead and feel outraged. … It’s a beautiful morning at the Friendly Confines, going to be about 78 degrees today, then drop to 55 tomorrow. Wind appears to be blowing left to right. … For those who like to listen to the Spanish-language broadcast, Jaime Jarrin is flying solo for this series. Pepe Yniguez stayed back to attend his daughter’s college graduation and will join us in New York on Thursday. … Speaking of broadcasts, I caught The Bucket List on the redeye last night. I’m sure a lot of you have already seen it, but I thought it was outstanding. Anyway, there is a very brief clip early on from a Dodgers broadcast that Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are watching in their hospital room. Best I could figure was that it was from 2006. It was Vin Scully calling a base hit to center by a Giants player, Matt Kemp fielding it and throwing home. Actually, it HAD to be ’06, because there was a brief shot of Kemp’s back after the play, and he had no name on the back of his jersey. That was only ’05 and ’06, and Kemp didn’t get here until ’06. … I’m heading down to the itty bitty teenie weenie visiting clubhouse they have here. I’ll check back a little later.
Ethier’s walkoff single (would have been a double if it hadn’t been a walkoff) ended the game, the two-game losing streak and the series — and this seemingly endless three-day stretch of watching Tony La Russa (over)manage. Anyway, the Dodgers actually two TWO hits w/RISP in THE SAME GAME. They are now 2 for 29 over the past four games. But hey, they won, and Kershaw’s debut was a smashing success (albeit one with no decision). He struck out seven over six pretty good innings in which he held the Redbirds to two runs on five hits. His next start will come on Friday night at Shea. The bullpen came up big in this one, especially Broxton and Saito, who both had to take on more than their usual share of the load. Brox went 1 2/3, Saito two innings for the win. … Dodgers go to 26-23 and stay 3 1/2 behind the Snakes. … On to Chicago. There is a redeye leaving tonight with my name on it.