What they’re saying about the Phillies’ first round exit

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We did this with the Yankees yesterday, so it’s only appropriate that we check out some of the reaction to the Phillies’ surprising first round exit. Here’s a quick sampling:

Charlie Manuel: “Right now, I’ve just got some anger. I just feel very empty.”

Roy Halladay: “The hard part is, you think about all the work you put in, and then you have two days to get excited about the game. All of a sudden, it disappears. It’s hard to have it end like that.”

Ryan Howard: “It sucks. It sucks. Being in this situation, having it come down and making the last out and having it happen the way that it happened, it sucks. You don’t want to be a part of that. We came up short. The only thing we can do is try to focus on next year and, for me, try to get healthy.”

Sam Donnellon: The Cardinals advanced not just because they hit, but because their overlooked staff matched the Phillies famous staff, made the Phillies lineup so dormant that the two loudest innings of the game began with a hit batsmen and a dropped third strike.

David Murphy: It is a question that re-inforces the fickle nature of baseball’s postseason, when an entire season of accomplishment boils down to five games of performance. Once again, the Phillies were narrowly out-performed. And now they must spend an offseason reflecting on the emptiness of 102 wins, staring blankly at the present like last night’s sell-out crowd.

Jim Salisbury: Long after the stadium had emptied, and after most of the players had dressed and left the clubhouse, Shane Victorino reached into his locker and pulled out a sheet of World Series tickets marked for games in Philadelphia. He looked at them wistfully then tore them in pieces and dropped them into the trash bin as he headed for the door and another cold winter. This is all happened Friday night. The new Black Friday.

Todd Zolecki: This will be considered one of the greatest disappointments in Philadelphia sports history. Everything had gone according to plan during the season. The rotation lived up to the hype. The bats struggled early, but the team acquired Hunter Pence at the Trade Deadline to bolster the offense. The Phillies cruised to their fifth consecutive NL East championship, but this was a team that was supposed to win it all, and it won’t.

Paul Hagen: But what will 2012 look like? That’s the question that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will have to answer. Does he just need to make a few tweaks here and there and hope for fewer injuries and better timing a year from now? Or will he decide that this team is a little too old and a little too stale and feel the need to make significant changes to alter the chemistry? And how much will his hands be tied by financial considerations?

Phil Sheridan: Another year passes, then, without a ring for Halladay and Lee, who came here to win. For the first time, you have to wonder whether they picked the wrong place.

Cliff Lee: “It’s disappointing because we had higher expectations. I don’t know (if this was the best opportunity. I don’t think management is going to give up on everything. We’re still going to have good pitching. We’re still going to have a good team. I expect to come in here next year and make another run at it.”

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. lays out to make a great catch in deep right-center field

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Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. robbed Giants first baseman Brandon Belt of at least a double in the top of the first inning of Monday’s game at Wrigley Field. Almora completely left his feet to catch the ball before landing just shy of the warning track.

The Giants took the early lead two batters prior to Belt’s at-bat as Joe Panik hit a solo home run to center field.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.