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Is Clutch Craig-O Off the Hook? Tigers 7, Phillies 4

Craig Monroe has been taking some crap since his 2-for-12, eight strikeout performance in the Milwaukee series. Even Jim Leyland, who refused to pinch-hit for Monroe (who was already 0-for-4 with four strikeouts) late in Thursday's game when the Tigers were down by one run with a runner on base and only one out, decided C-Mo needed to watch the game from the bench for a couple of games.

And as someone who has spoken and written in Monroe's defense (often to C-Mo's #1 critic, Mike McClary), and taken jeers from friends for listing him as one of my "heroes" on my MySpace page (actually, he's still there; I just checked), I was finding myself turning against him, too.

But Monroe might have hit his way out of the doghouse today with a - dare I say it - clutch hit in the seventh inning that gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead, which they eventually took to a 7-4 victory and a series win. He popped up or flied out in his three previous at-bats, continuing what had become an ugly streak of poor hitting.

Something must have clicked in that fourth at-bat. Maybe it was because the Phillies had pitched (and managed, after three pitching changes) themselves into a situation where they were bound to give up the lead. Or maybe Monroe knew he just had to come through because he'd been such a disappointment lately. Whatever the reason, the bases were loaded and Monroe worked Yoel Hernandez into a full count. The next pitch was singled into left field. Okay, it was shallow left field because Abraham Nunez got his glove on the ball. But it was still a single, which drove in two runs and put the Tigers ahead.

So does that two-run hit wash off the embarrassment and frustration of Monroe's slump? I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens during the rest of this road trip to know for certain.

Is Rodney Off the Hook, Too?

And what is your current mood regarding Fernando Rodney? Yes, he gave up a run, but would've gotten out clean if not for Carlos Guillen's error on Jimmy Rollins' ground ball. Instead of letting the Phillies back into the game, Rodney kept the lead and clamped down when he needed to.

The Philly Meltdown:

The Phillies provided some entertainment in the eighth inning, but not exactly for the home crowd. Carlos Ruiz squawked back to Bill Welke when he denied an appeal to the first base umpire on Marcus Thames' check swing. And it wasn't difficult to see what Ruiz said that got him ejected. It looked like he said the words "That's bull$#!+" in perfectly good English.

Charlie Manuel then came out to argue, but appeared to be asking Welke to let him out of the game early. The real entertainment came from third base coach Steve Smith who went ballistic like Gary Sheffield. If Manuel wouldn't have engulfed Smith with his girth, there might have been a suspension to come. Smith was baring some fangs, man. And the meltdown was complete. Good stuff, though it made the game go on a bit longer.

No More Rowand!

Anyone else glad that we won't be seeing any more of Aaron Rowand? The box scores say he went 5-for-10 in the series with three RBI, which is surprising since I thought he was 12-for-12 with 10 RBI. For his career, Rowand is .372/.372/.507 against Detroit.