NotebookXSmall.jpgIt was the best we could hope for, two of three from the Twins. Would it be greedy to have hoped for a sweep on Sunday?

In theory, no.

In reality, with the seemingly unbeatable Carl Pavano on the mound, the answer is a begrudging yes.

But who would have guessed, though, that the Tigers would take the first two games of the weekend series and still slip into second place? White Sox GM Kenny Williams? Probably.

And so here we are at the All-Star Break and the Tigers are an eyelash out of first place — and with a bit of breathing room between themselves and the Twins.

All things considered, not too bad.

Friday: Tigers 7 – Twins 3

Friday night’s game was the marquee matchup, Justin Verlander versus Francisco Liriano, and Verlander was at times excellent and baffling — 103 pitches in 5-1/3 innings? Yikes — and the offense, as the 7-4 score would indicate, was paced by Magglio Ordonez, Brennan Boesch and Carlos Guillen who went a combined 7 for 11.

After the game Jim Leyland blasted holes through the Rick Porcello trade rumorette — Jon Paul Morosi speculated that Porcello’s pushed-back start could be viewed as a showcase for a trade partner. Perhaps Morosi got a little too close to the truth and the Tigers wanted to respond? I’m thinking we haven’t heard the last of this story.

Saturday: Tigers 7 – Twins 4

Saturday’s nationally televised game featured loads of offense all of the extra-base variety: eight hits, four doubles, four homers. Jeremy Bonderman eked out a quality start and the bullpen kept the Twins at bay.

Meanwhile, the White Sox were doing what the Tigers seem incapable of doing: beating the Royals with ease. Coming into Sunday’s finale, a mere half-game separated the surging Sox and the Tigers.

Sunday: Twins 6 – Tigers 3

Standing in the way of a sweep was the most mystifying of recent Tigers killers: Pavano. Last year with the Indians and Twins, he was 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA against Detroit.

He was up to his old tricks on Sunday making Tigers hitters look foolish and retiring the first 13 batters he faced. Andy Oliver showed flashes of his potential but allowed four earned runs and seems destined for a return trip to Erie sooner rather than later.

The Tigers made some noise offensively but never seemed to mount a credible threat. Hardly surprisingly considering the foe. With the Twins’ 6-3 victory, Pavano’s career record against Detroit: 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA in eight career starts.

So, despite winning two of three, the Tigers find themselves looking up at the White Sox in the Central division.

Things will get all the more interesting when games resume after the All-Star Break. The Tigers head to Cleveland on Friday while the White Sox travel to Minneapolis for three.

It all has the makings of a terrific three-team race.