Link-O-Rama: Alvarez powers Team USA in World Cup

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* Pirates prospect and 2008 first-round pick Pedro Alvarez smacked three homers yesterday as the United States blew out Chinese Taipei in the World Cup. Team USA is now 6-1 in the tournament, including 4-0 in the second round.
* Believe it or not the smallest gap in any division right now belongs to the AL Central, where the Tigers and their four-game lead begin a three-game series with the second-place Twins tonight.
* In addition to the Royals finally signing Aaron Crow another prominent holdout came to an end yesterday, as No. 44 overall pick Tanner Scheppers agreed to terms with the Rangers. He reportedly gets more than $1 million.
* Based on this data, Jerod Morris is probably sitting in his parents’ basement somewhere, smiling.
* My favorite television writer, Alan Sepinwall, is trying to come up with “similarity scores” for actors and actresses like the ones Bill James invented for baseball players.
* If you’re not following me on Twitter yet, you missed out on my mom’s analysis of Justin Morneau’s season-ending back injury.

Ohtani homers twice, including career longest at 459 feet, Angels beat White Sox 12-5

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CHICAGO (AP) Shohei Ohtani homered in consecutive innings, including a 459-foot drive that was the longest of his Major League Baseball career, and drove in four runs to lead the Los Angeles Angels over the Chicago White Sox 12-5 Wednesday.

Mike Trout put the Angels ahead 2-0 with a 476-foot home run in the first that was four rows shy of clearing the left field bleachers. Taylor Ward also went deep as the Angels hit four two-run homers plus a solo shot.

“Those are the guys you lean on,” manager Phil Nevin said. “They can certainly put the team on their backs and carry us and that’s what they did today.”

Ohtani drove a first-pitch fastball from Lance Lynn (4-6) just to left of straightaway center in the third, where the ball was dropped by a fan who tried to glove it. That 425-foot drive put the Angels ahead 4-1.

Lynn didn’t even bother to turn and look when Ohtani hit a full count fastball more than a dozen rows over the bullpen in right-center in the fourth. The two-way Japanese star is batting .269 with 15 homers and 38 RBIs to go along with a 5-1 record and 2.91 ERA.

“I’m feeling good right now,” Ohtani said through a translator. “I’m putting good swings on pitches I should be hitting hard.”

Ohtani increased his career total to 13 multihomer games with his first this season.

Trout pulled a hanging curve for his 13th home run. Ward hit a two-run homer against Jesse Scholtens in the seventh and Chad Wallach, pinch hitting for Ohtani, had a solo homer in the ninth off Garrett Crochet.

“Usually when that happens, we’re in a good spot to win,” Trout said.

Trout and Ohtani have homered in the same game for the fifth time this season. The Angels hit a pair of 450-foot or more home runs in the same game for the first time since Statcast started tracking in 2015.

Lynn allowed eight runs, eight hits and two walks while hitting two batters in four innings, raising his ERA to 6.55. He has given up 15 home runs, one short of the major league high of Kansas City’s Jordan Lyles. Lynn had won his previous three starts.

“It seemed like he didn’t get away with any today,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “Just one of those days, man.”

Jaime Barria (2-2) gave up one run and four hits in five innings with six strikeouts and two walks.

Los Angeles won two of three from the White Sox after being swept by Miami last weekend.

Jake Burger homered for Chicago, which has lost four of five. Burger hit his 11th homer in the ninth and Hanser Alberto had a two run double off Tucker Davidson.

Chicago’s Romy Gonzalez, who’d homered in three straight games, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

THE NATURALS

Twenty-three people became naturalized U.S. citizens during a pregame swearing-in behind home plate.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Trout fouled a pitch off his right leg in the fourth but remained in the game.

White Sox: INF Elvis Andrus (strained left oblique) and RHP Mike Clevinger (right wrist inflammation) are close to returning but Grifol wouldn’t elaborate on either player’s status.

UP NEXT

Angels: Reid Detmers (0-4, 4.93) starts Thursday’s series opener at Houston against fellow LHP Framber Valdez (5-4, 2.38).

White Sox: Have not announced a starter for Friday’s series opener against visiting Detroit, which starts RHP Reese Olson in his major league debut. Olson is 2-3 with a 6.38 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A Toledo.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports