On Baseball: Behind Astros Victory, McCullers’s Killer Instinct and a Father’s Advice

“He’s got as good a curveball as we’ve seen in the game this year,” said the Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, whose curveball helped make him the majors’ career strikeout leader. “He has a lot of confidence in it, and it’s special to watch.”

McCullers is 24, a first-time All-Star this season, and a power pitcher who has averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings in his three-year career. He has not won a Cy Young Award, like Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, the aces who front the Astros’ rotation. But he looks as if he may, someday.

Yet, so did his close friend and off-season training partner José Fernández, who was killed in a boating accident last year in Miami, where he had played for the Marlins. McCullers’s father, Lance McCullers Sr., did not contend for awards, but seemed to be headed for a long career as a durable reliever when his arm betrayed him, without warning, in 1990.

“It happened one night in Detroit,” McCullers Sr. said on the field here after Game 7, streamers still dangling from the overhead wires. “I threw against the Royals and threw great for four innings or so. It was right at the All-Star break. I went home, came…

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