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Jeremy Guthrie's long wait to pitch in the postseason is almost over.

Now in his 11th big league season, the Royals righty was ready to make his playoff debut in Game 4 of the AL Division Series. He wasn't needed once as KC swept the Angels.

The 35-year-old Guthrie is set to start tonight when Kansas City hosts Baltimore, with the Royals holding a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.

That is, if the weather holds. The forecast calls for showers all day and night.

"I tell you one thing, Kansas City has the best rainstorm I've ever seen," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said during Sunday's workout at Kauffman Stadium. "I've seen the dugout fill up here in about three minutes. The most unbelievable lightning storm I've ever seen."

Another day off might not affect Guthrie too much. He hasn't pitched since Sept. 26.

"It can be tough for some guys. But it's never been tough for Jeremy. Jeremy always finds a way to keep himself sharp," manager Ned Yost said.

Along with throwing in the bullpen, Guthrie has kept busy in other ways. He's been the Spanish-to-English translator for teammate Yordano Ventura's media sessions.

Guthrie pitched for the Orioles from 2007-11. He led the majors in losses one year, and tied for the most in another season.

___

THAT HURTS

Three wins. That's all the St. Louis Cardinals need to claim their second consecutive pennant.

They might have to figure out a way to get them without Yadier Molina.

The star catcher left a 5-4 victory over San Francisco in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series because of a strained muscle on his left side Sunday night. How much time he could miss wasn't yet known.

"We don't know much more about it right now," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's out getting some looks right now from the doctors. And we'll know later. But didn't look real good."

Matheny said Molina "felt a little something" in his first at-bat, and that was taken into consideration when he sacrificed in the fourth. Molina had just one sacrifice bunt in the past two regular seasons.

"We were hopeful that the next at-bat things would loosen up a little bit, but obviously that wasn't the case," Matheny said.

Molina barely budged from the batter's box when he grounded into a double play against reliever Jeremy Affeldt in the sixth. The six-time All-Star remained hunched over with his hands on his knees until Matheny and a trainer came out to meet him. Molina walked gingerly off the field, clearly in pain.

Tony Cruz replaced Molina behind the plate, and veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski also is on the bench.

Matheny said the Cardinals will have to learn more about Molina's injury before deciding whether to replace him on the NLCS roster. If they do that, he would be ineligible for the World Series.

"If we have to go short with an opportunity to have him back, we'd do that," Matheny said. "But we will cross that bridge when we get to it."

Molina missed seven weeks this season with a torn ligament in his right thumb, and St. Louis went 21-19 during his absence. He has won six straight Gold Gloves and finished third in NL MVP voting last year.

He got his 89th career postseason hit in the second inning, passing Albert Pujols for the team record.

___

STILL WAITING

Tim Lincecum won the World Series clincher for the Giants in 2010, became a key reliever during their 2012 championship run and pitched a no-hitter this year.

Yet seven games into this postseason, he hasn't thrown a single pitch.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner lost his spot in the rotation in August. He's been buried in the bullpen since then, and tossed only 8 1-3 innings in September.

Lincecum didn't even get the call when San Francisco played an 18-inning game against Washington in the NLDS.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy says he's aware the 30-year-old whirlybird is ready, if needed.

"He's done a lot for us. I haven't forgotten that," Bochy said recently.

___

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I don't second-guess, but you realize, even more so than some people watching, how many options you had. There's so many things about your club, that's the thing, you never tell truths that hurt innocent people. You protect people with some of your decisions that you don't talk about publicly." — Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter on managing in the postseason.


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