ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The bees swarmed the field in the third inning, moving to the outfield walls while players and fans scattered before them. They stuck around for a couple of innings before a fan volunteer and a fire extinguisher persuaded them to buzz off.
They missed the finish of a gritty victory by the Seattle Mariners and a streak-snapping loss for C.J. Wilson.
Justin Smoak hit a tiebreaking two-run homer, Felix Hernandez had 10 strikeouts in a four-inning start and the Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Sunday in a game delayed twice by bees.
Both teams retreated to their dugouts during an initial 23-minute delay. The bees roamed over the right side of the field and eventually hovered near the ficus trees beyond the wall in center.
“They started coming out of the stands,” said Franklin Gutierrez, the Mariners’ right fielder. “I saw (fans) going out, and then the bees started coming to right field. That was scary.”
Gutierrez doesn’t know if he’s allergic to bee stings, “but I just started running away just in case.”
“Mid-pitch, I had them swarming around my head,” said Smoak, who was playing first base. “First time I’ve ever had that.”
The Angels had two runners on and two outs in the third when the bees interrupted. Most fans stayed in their seats as a few brave grounds crew members and crowd volunteers attempted to deter the swarm with a broom, a Gatorade cooler and a cardboard box.
“That dude just came out of the stands and said ‘It’s OK. I’m a beekeeper,'” Wilson said. “It was like a ‘Seinfeld’ episode. Do you tip a bee guy? Throw him a 20? I don’t carry cash on me when I’m pitching, so it wouldn’t have been me.”
Hernandez escaped a bases-loaded jam when the game resumed, but there was another short delay in the fourth when Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun began swatting at more bees in the outfield.
“I thought they had gotten rid of all of them, and then when I got out there, all the fans were yelling: ‘They’re on the ground! They’re on the ground!'” Calhoun said. “So I’m looking around and I see them swarming and stuff, and then I see a pile of bees on the ground — hundreds and hundreds of bees. There were bees everywhere. I had to call (umpire) Jim Joyce over there.”
A quick blast from the fire extinguisher dissuaded the bees from sticking around.
“Kole was really freaking out all of a sudden because I guess there was a softball-size bee colony that was swarming on the ground,” Wilson said. “It was amazing. I’ve never seen that before.”
Despite the bees’ rude interruptions, Hernandez set a major league record for strikeouts in a four-inning start. King Felix hadn’t pitched in 20 days since leaving a loss at Kansas City on Sept. 2 with a strained oblique muscle.
Hernandez walked four and gave up a run in the Angels’ second-inning rally, but otherwise looked sharp in his return to the rotation.
“I was just trying not to overthrow, just throw strikes,” said Hernandez, who left feeling fine after 92 pitches. “It was a little different with the bees. I was talking to the guys: ‘I’m going to be in the clubhouse if they come over here.'”
Oliver Perez (3-3) struck out the side in the fifth inning after relieving Hernandez. Danny Farquhar, the Mariners’ fifth reliever, pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 19 chances.
“We had to use a lot of guys, most of which were tired and at the end of their ropes, but they did fine,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Mike Zunino had an early RBI double in just the third win in 14 games for the Mariners.
Wilson (17-7) pitched eight-hit ball into the ninth inning but lost for the first time since July 5 against Boston, ending a streak that saw him go 9-0 over 13 starts. The left-hander struck out nine while reaching 200 innings for the fourth consecutive season.
Wilson had two outs and two strikes before Smoak lifted a tailing fly into the short stands down the left-field line. The homer was Smoak’s 18th this season, but his first batting right-handed.
Wilson got a big ovation when he left with one out in the ninth after 123 pitches. He was 13-1 with a 2.91 ERA in his previous 18 starts since June 14.
“It’s frustrating to get outpitched, but it happens,” Wilson said.
Calhoun hit a solo homer in the eighth inning, and Efren Navarro got his first career RBI for the Angels, who couldn’t finish off a three-game sweep. Los Angeles had won nine of 11 and 21 of 28 for the majors’ best record since late August despite getting eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday.
Los Angeles had plenty of opportunities to help out Wilson, but stranded three runners in the seventh and two more in the eighth.
NOTES: Just eight pitchers have thrown 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. … Seattle had lost five straight to Los Angeles. … The Angels’ last five games have been decided by one run.
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