Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – according to X Marks the Sport.
1. Novak Djokovic (Tennis – Serbia)
Novak Djokovic wrapped up a good weekend for the top singles seeds at Wimbledon by successfully defending his title from a year ago. To pull off the feat this year, Djokovic had to get past Roger Federer (Switzerland) who had been in vintage form throughout the tournament. Heading into last Sunday’s final, Federer had won 18 of 19 sets. Djokovic and Federer split two extremely tight sets to kick off the final, before the reigning champ ultimately pulled away to capture his third career title at Wimbledon. It was the second Grand Slam title of the year for Djokovic, and the ninth of his career. Of course, he celebrated his victory by enjoying a taste of the apparently well-treated Centre Court grass. That tradition of his is questionable at best, but with appearances in all three Grand Slam events this season there is no questioning where his level of play is currently.
2. Mike Trout (CF – Los Angeles Angels)
The term “face of the league” was tossed around a lot last week in reference to Mike Trout, and he spent the week validating that notion. Trout made an immediate statement in Tuesday’s All-Star Game by hitting a lead-off home run off of the recently untouchable Zack Greinke. He scored another run later in the game, leading the American League to a 6-3 triumph in the mid-summer classic. Trout was named the Most Valuable Player of the game, and at age 23 became the first player in league history to win the award in consecutive All-Star Games. Once regular season games resumed, Trout reminded fans once again why he is considered by many to be the best player in the game. I Friday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, he broke a 0-0 tie in the 9th inning by launching a game-ending solo home run off of closer Koji Uehara. Trout has been incredibly productive over the last few years, but it is the signature moments such as the ones he authored this week which make him Major League Baseball’s brightest star.
3. Clayton Kershaw (SP – Los Angeles Dodgers)
For the first time in almost a month, Clayton Kershaw has his win-loss record for the season above .500. The reigning Cy Young winner accomplished this in impressive fashion, shutting out the Washington Nationals on Saturday night over 8 strong innings. With his signature curveball in full effect, Kershaw held the Nationals’ lineup to just 3 singles. He struck out a season high 14 batters and did not allow any bases on balls. His ERA for the season now sits at 2.68, the lowest point it has been at all year. Kershaw seems to have regained his Cy Young form in the month of July. In three starts this month, he has given up just one run over 24 innings (0.38 ERA) while recording a sparkling 34 to 2 strikeout to walk ratio. With this last start, Kershaw became the first pitcher to have consecutive starts with at least 13 strikeouts and no walks since Dwight Gooden in 1984. With Kershaw finding his groove, he and teammate Zack Greinke form the most daunting one-two punch of any rotation in the majors.