X’s Three Stars of the Week (7/12/15 – 7/18/15)

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.

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.