Belt, Pagan bear witness to two fateful moments amid perfection

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Belt, Pagan bear witness to two fateful moments amid perfection

SAN FRANCISCO Gregor Blanco provided the impossible catch.In a recipe for a perfect game, thats the leavening agent.

But Matt Cains perfect night included two other dashes offate Wednesday night.

There was Chris Snyders deep drive that looked gone,sounded gone and felt gone but got pushed back into the field of play, whereMelky Cabrera caught it with a leap near the wall.

And there was Jordan Schafers foul down the first base linein the fourth inning, which missed being a double by the width of a protractor.

Schafers ball was one of five two-strike fouls in a10-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout. Umpire Mike Muchlinski did nothesitate to make his call. Replays were inconclusive, as the ball appeared tohook directly over the bag.

The view from first baseman Brandon Belt: It was veryclose. It hit before the bag, Maybe a millimeter of the ball might have hit thechalk. But the way it was hooking, it was definitely foul.

Houston manager Brad Mills came out to argue briefly. If theball was indeed fair, it wasnt an egregious mistake like the one in JohanSantanas no-hitter on June 1.

There was something more than human error, or lack thereof,at work in the sixth. Snyder boomed his drive and it had the unmistakable soundof a perfecto wrecker.

Gone?

Ohh yeah, Cain said. I mean, I thought it was a homerun. I think we all did. I know he barreled it up. I dont know if he got justa little under it or something happened, or wind came off the glove and pushedit back. I have no idea how that ball stayed in the park.

The view from center fielder Angel Pagan: The ball wasntgoing out. It was out. Then it cut back. It was 10 rows back but then it bananacut. Ive never seen anything like it.When

Pagan went to the plate the next inning, he askedSnyder about it.

He said, Yeah buddy, I got the whole thing, Pagan said.

It was not like the wind knocked down everything hit hard.The Giants hit three home runs for the first time in a home game this season.(They entered this series with six in 32 home games; theyve got five in twonights against the Astros staff.) Even Blanco appeared to hit a pop-up thatsomehow carried into the right field arcade.

So what interceded on Snyders ball? Something divine?

Angels in the outfield? Pagan said. Not just an Angel.Its angels.

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

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AP

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people.

"Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,"Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. "Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves."

"It is a game and celebration," he said, and noted that "there's a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here." Robinson, a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke Major League Baseball's color line to become its first black player.

The White House event came four days before Obama hands the presidency over to Donald Trump following one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.

It also follows a weekend in which civil rights icon John Lewis said he didn't consider Trump a legitimate president because of Russian meddling in the election. Trump responded on Twitter by criticizing Lewis as "all talk" and suggesting the Democratic congressman take better care of his Georgia district.

Obama has a home in Chicago, but is a longtime White Sox fan. He rooted for the Cubs after the Sox failed to reach the playoffs.

His wife, first lady Michelle Obama, however, is a lifelong Cubs fan. She greeted Cubs players before the ceremony, which Obama noted was her first appearance at some of the roughly 50 events he has hosted for championship college and professional sports teams.

The Cubs gave Obama two baseball jerseys — home and away — with the number 44, among other gifts. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also wears the number, and Obama referred to Rizzo as "my fellow 44."Obama is the nation's 44th president.

Obama said it will be hard for him to wear the jersey, but told the Cubs: "Do know that among Sox fans I am the Cubs' No. 1 fan."

Hours after the Cubs won the series in November, Obama asked the team on Twitter if it wanted to visit the White House before his term ends Friday.

The World Series title was the first for the Cubs since 1908, and they won it by defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants avoided arbitration with three more veterans on Friday, agreeing to one-year deals with third baseman Eduardo Nuñez, left-hander Will Smith and right-hander George Kontos.

Financial details were not immediately available. MLB Trade Rumors' projections put Nuñez at about $4.4 million, Smith at about $2.3 million, and Kontos at about $1.7 million. The Giants reached deals with all six arbitration eligible players this offseason. 

Nunez, acquired last summer, will enter camp as the starter at third base. He posted a .269/.327/.418 slash line and 12 stolen bases after coming over from the Twins.

Smith was also acquired before the trade deadline, and he had a 2.95 ERA in 26 appearances for the Giants. He is expected to play a pivotal role in setting up for new closer Mark Melancon. 

Kontos has long been Bruce Bochy's most reliable reliever in the middle innings and he could move to a higher-leverage role in a revamped bullpen. He had a 2.53 ERA in 2016, his fifth season with the Giants.

The Giants had previously reached one-year deals with Cory Gearrin, Ehire Adrianza and Conor Gillaspie. They have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when a deal could not be reached with A.J. Pierzynski.