Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – according to X Marks the Sport.
1. Chris Heston (SP – San Francisco Giants)
Dominant pitching is very appealing around these parts, and it’s hard to be more dominant than Chris Heston was on Tuesday. In just his 13th career start Heston threw a no-hitter against the New York Mets, striking out 11 batters (a career high) while walking none. Only three batters reached base and they all did so the hard way, getting hit by pitches. Heston was at his best in the final inning, shaking off hitting the leadoff batter in the 9th and striking out the next three batters. One has to wonder why those final three Mets took called third strikes knowing what the situation was and how umpiring changes in those situations, but nonetheless it was a great performance by the 27-year-old rookie. Heston has been uneven is his performance this year, but this was his 7th start out of 12 giving up one or fewer earned runs. He’s been bad in the other five starts (in all fairness, two of the five bad starts were at the hitters Paradise known as Coors Field), but Heston has shown enough (especially on Tuesday) to prove he is indeed an up and comer to watch.
2. LeBron James (SF – Cleveland Cavaliers)
The NBA Finals has become a total mismatch on paper due to the Cavaliers’ expanding injury list, but LeBron James has done everything in his power to keep the series intriguing. James led Cleveland to two improbable wins, doing so by transforming into a volume scorer and doing great work on the glass. In the three games last week, James posted averages of 33.0 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 9.0 assists while playing over 45 minutes per game. The workload James has had to manage has affected him and his the primary culprit in his shooting an uncharacteristic 35.2% from the field over the last three games. However, James is still performing at an elite level for any Finals series, to the point where there are series discussions about whether or not he should receive the Bill Russell Finals MVP award even if the Cavaliers ultimately come up short. Granted some of that discussion is due to the fact that no Warrior has consistently stood out in this series, but the fact that this is even being considered speaks to just how impressive James has been.
3. Giancarlo Stanton (RF – Miami Marlins)
No one is baseball right now hits home runs with the authority that Giancarlo Stanton does. So when he starts hitting them in bunches, there aren’t many things more fun to watch. Stanton has been on an absolute tear, and in seven games last week he hit 12-26 (.462 batting average) with 5 HR and 12 RBI. As a team, the Marlins scored 26 runs last week and nearly half of those runs were driven in by Stanton. He collected five multi-hit games last week, raising his batting average by 26 points (.234 to .260) and his slugging percentage 72 points (.541 to .613) in the process. For the season, Stanton leads the majors with 23 home runs and 59 runs batted in. And according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, 5 of the top 10 longest home runs hit in the Major Leagues this year were hit by none other than Giancarlo Stanton. His team isn’t very good, but this guy alone is worth the price of admission if he comes to your town. He may just hit one out like this…