Serena Williams

X’s Three Stars of the Week (7/5/15 – 7/11/15)

Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – according to X Marks the Sport.

1. Carli Lloyd (FW – United States)

This was the easiest top star of the week to name since X Marks the Sport began doing the “Three Stars” segment. Any concerns from American fans that this year’s Women’s World Cup Final would have the same results as the Final between the United States and Japan in 2011 were immediately quelled by Carli Lloyd. The forward came out of the gates on fire, scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the match seizing control of the match before most fans had time to get seated and comfortable. A little over ten minutes later, Lloyd launched a heat check shot (to borrow a basketball term) from midfield and scored again. Her early offense left little doubt as to who the eventual World Cup winner would be. In the process, Lloyd became the first woman in history to record a hat trick in any World Cup Final – and did so with well over an hour to spare in the match. Lloyd’s historic effort broke the 16-year mini-drought for the United States women in the World Cup and ensured that highly-decorated and accomplished teammate Abby Wambach would not retire without a World Cup championship on her esteemed résumé.

2. Serena Williams (Tennis – United States)

It was another week of brilliant tennis in a Grand Slam event for Serena Williams en route to her sixth career Wimbledon championship. To get to the final, Williams defeated her sister Venus Williams (United States) and followed that up with wins over Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) and Maria Sharapova (Russia), dropping just one set in the process. All three of those opponents have been ranked #1 in the world at some point during there careers, so it was a distinguished list of opponents Serena Williams got through to get to the Final. Williams went on to top a newcomer to the Grand Slam finals picture in Garbiñe Muguruza to win yet another Grand Slam event. The victory on Saturday means that Williams currently holds all four Grand Slam titles for the second time in her career. She is the first women’s player since Steffi Graf (Germany) in 1988 to win the first three Grand Slam events in a calendar year. She is also the first women’s player to complete the calendar “Channel Slam” (French Open and Wimbledon) since…well, since herself back in 2002. She is an all-time great having a special year even by her sky-high standards.

3. Brian Dozier (2B – Minnesota Twins)

The overall stat line of Brain Dozier for this week won’t stand out too much. He went 7-28 (.250 batting average), with 3 home runs, 9 runs batted in, and 5 runs scored. However, it was Dozier’s flair for the dramatic which earned him a spot on this week’s edition of “Three Stars”. On Monday, Dozier delivered a walk-off 2-run home run in the 10th inning off of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Tommy Hunter to propel the Twins to a 4-2 victory. Dozier was even more clutch on Friday. After the Twins had cut a 6-run deficit to the Detroit Tigers down to one run, Dozier blasted his second walk-off home run in five days off of Tigers closer Joakim Soria. This time it was a three-run homer and lifted Minnesota to an 8-6 win. Dozier capped off the exciting week by receiving his first selection to the MLB All-Star Game.

X’s Three Stars Of The Week (5/31/15 – 6/6/15)

Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – according to X Marks the Sport.

1. Serena Williams (Women’s Tennis)

Fighting through illness, Serena Williams persevered to win her 20th Grand Slam singles tournament with a win over Lucie Safarova in the 2015 French Open Final. At less than full strength, Williams won four matches during this week, with three of those wins coming in three sets. The most impressive part of her run was her domination in the third sets. During the last four rounds of the tournament, she won a combined 18 of 23 (78.3%) games she played in the do or die third sets. It’s speaks to Williams’ unsurpassed determination to be at her absolute best in those deciding sets, when given her physical condition she should have been at her worst. With Saturday’s title clinching win, Williams broke a tie with Helen Wills to take sole possession of 3rd place on the all-time Women’s Grand Slam singles titles list.

2. Carlos Martínez (SP – St. Louis Cardinals)

The Dodgers have had enough of Carlos Martínez. In the past week, they had to face him twice and both times he dominated. In his two starts against Los Angeles, Martínez pitched 14 innings surrendering just 4 hits and 1 run (good for a 0.64 ERA) while amassing 19 total strikeouts. These performances came after two previous scoreless starts from Martínez, so he’s been on fire for a while now. But what really made this a stand out week for him is what he did last Sunday. Martínez, visibly emotional on the mound, fired seven shutout innings to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Major League debut of the highly touted Oscar Taveras (May 31). Taveras, who was very close to Carlos Martínez, passed away last fall in a car accident at the age of 22. To honor the memory of his fallen teammate and friend, Martínez switched his jersey to Taveras’ #18 last winter.  So the win on Sunday was as special as a win in May could possibly get for Martínez.

3. American Pharoah (horse racing)

X does not like to consider horse racing a true sport since it is about the competitive performances of horses (and the questionable treatment of them during the races) instead of humans. However, X will acknowledge that there are plenty of folks who feel American Pharoah’s victory yesterday was a significant sports moment. It is difficult for a horse to win a relative marathon race like the Belmont Stakes (12 furlongs) right after pulling off victories at the Kentucky Derby (10 furlongs) and the Preakness (9.5 furlongs). Owner Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza are all too familiar with that fact. They probably cherish this moment even more than most owners and jockeys would after coming so close to the Triple Crown on multiple previous occasions – just to see it slips through their hands at the Belmont. It was indeed a treat for horse racing fans to see something that hadn’t occurred in 37 years.