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Wild night for Astros’ bullpen, but former Cal State Fullerton player Devenski gets the win

Astros reliever Chris Devenski celebrates after striking out Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig for the final out of Game 2.
(Mike Nelson / EPA)

All eyes turned to the Houston Astros’ bullpen.

This line is not a setup. This October has not been kind to the Astros’ bullpen, but this was a very different kind of spectacle.

There was a sudden, unwanted and quite possibly inebriated new occupant in the bullpen. The guy had jumped on in, from a seat in Section 52 on the field level, and the Astros jumped on out of their dugout to see just what was going on in their bullpen.

A quick takedown, as it turned out. And, on the kind of hot fall night that can spawn the devil winds in Southern California, the beleaguered Astros bullpen absorbed more than a fair share of hits, but still not as many as the vaunted Dodgers bullpen.

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An umpire absorbed a hit too, meaning an umpire and not a pitcher recorded the save for the first World Series victory in Astros history.

The last Houston pitcher, the one credited with the victory, was a local kid. Chris Devenski grew up in Cerritos, played at Cal State Fullerton, and once played at Dodger Stadium with a youth team called the Indy Clowns.

Bring on the Clowns, indeed. But not for long, at least not for the clown that jumped in from the stands and was overcome so quickly by security guards and Astros personnel that Houston reliever Brad Peacock had to watch a video of the incident on a smartphone to see just what had happened. The clown was on his way out by the time Peacock could scramble out of an enclosed area.

“I’m right there,” he said, pointing to a tiny image on a reporter’s cellphone.

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The Astros were down two runs, and five outs from being down two games to the Dodgers in the World Series. They tied the score with a run-scoring single in the eighth inning and a home run in the ninth against Kenley Jansen, baseball’s best closer.

Jansen had not given up a run in one month and three days. If the Astros’ offense could open the door against Jansen, perhaps the Astros’ bullpen could shut the door, for a change.

The Astros’ starters have a 3.30 earned-run average in the postseason. The relievers have a 4.91 ERA, and they have given up 10 home runs in 40 innings.

Ken Giles, the Astros’ closer, protected a 3-3 tie in the ninth. The Astros took a 5-3 lead in the top of the 10th, but Giles could not finish the inning. The Dodgers tied the score on a home run, a two-out walk, a wild pitch and a single.

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Giles’ postseason ERA jumped to 9.45. His last 26 batters: 14 outs, 12 baserunners.

“My confidence is not damaged,” he said. “I flat out need to execute.”

Devenski replaced Giles, with the potential winning run on second. Devenski whirled and threw to second, but the pickoff throw was so wild that it knocked down the umpire, Laz Diaz.

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If Diaz were not there, Enrique Hernandez might have scored from second base. Astros manager A.J. Hinch thought back to the third inning, when a ball caromed off the cap of Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor directly to left fielder Joc Pederson, costing the Astros at least an extra base and maybe an inside-the-park home run.

“I felt like the baseball gods were returning the favor, by having an umpire standing in the way there,” Hinch said.

Devenski got that last out in the 10th. When the Astros scored twice in the top of the 11th, Devenski gave up one in the bottom of the 11th.

The Astros had survived.

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“I’m going to have a heart attack,” Peacock said.

Maybe an evening on the edge will get the Astros’ bullpen back on track, since little else seems to have worked.

In the meantime, the Astros’ relievers could regale themselves with stories about the dude who got crushed after he landed in the bullpen.

“He got mugged by a bunch of security officers,” said a Los Angeles Police Department officer stationed by the bullpen. “He didn’t do much.”

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The Astros still have their worries. They have used their two best starters. Their closer is a high-wire act. Their bullpen might have its weak spots, but repelling a guy from Section 52 is not one of them.

“We’ve got some crazy dudes down there,” Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. “That was the least of my worries.”

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin


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