To bee or not to bee. That was the theme Sunday in Angel Stadium, where a game between the Angels and Seattle Mariners was delayed for 23 minutes when a swarm of bees descended upon the field in the third inning.
"That was weird," Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson said after his nine-game winning streak dating to July 10 ended in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners. "I've never seen that before."
Howie Kendrick was at the plate when Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, who gave up one run and one hit, struck out 10 and walked four in four innings, saw the bees overhead and bolted toward the Angels' dugout.
The swarm settled in front of the right-center field wall, forcing players off the field and many fans in the right-field seats to evacuate — on fan appreciation day, no less.
Lucky for the Angels, a fan with beekeeping experience in a dugout suite came to the rescue. Johnny Poto, who works for Honey Pacifica, a Long Beach company that sells honey products, took a stepladder and a box filled with honey to the outfield and lured enough bees for the game to resume.
"It was amazing," Wilson said. "That dude just came out of the stands and said, 'It's OK, I'm a beekeeper.' It was like a 'Seinfeld' episode."
There was another brief delay in the top of the fourth inning when Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun noticed a cluster of bees on the ground and began waving his arms and yelling to get the attention of first base umpire Jim Joyce.
"I thought they got rid of them all, but when I went out there, all the fans were yelling, 'They're on the ground!' " Calhoun said. "I'm looking around, I see them swarming, and I was out of there.
"There was a pile of bees, hundreds of them, right where they dropped some honey. They were all chomping on it. There were bees everywhere."
Not for long. A stadium employee with a fire extinguisher came out and blasted the bees with carbon dioxide. End of problem.
"Thank God we had a beekeeper in the stands," Manager Mike Scioscia said.
Three innings after the delay, Wilson was stung by switch-hitter Justin Smoak, who curled a two-run home run on a 1-and-2 slider around the left-field foul pole to break a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning. It was Smoak's 18th home run but first from the right side. It was his sixth hit in 29 at-bats against Wilson.
"I just didn't bounce it," Wilson said. "I haven't had that happen all year on that pitch. I'm usually able to bounce a ball any time I want to. It's one of those things where, if you get a guy out often enough, he's going to make an adjustment or you're going to mess up."
Calhoun led off the eighth inning with a home run to right-center field, his eighth in only 51 games, to cut the lead to 3-2, but the Angels couldn't overcome an 0-for-11 effort with runners in scoring position.
Wilson pitched 81/3 innings, surpassing the 200-inning mark for the fourth consecutive year, giving up three runs and eight hits, striking out nine, walking one and throwing 123 pitches.
"Everything he's done is what you would expect from a high-profile pitcher," Scioscia said of Wilson, who is 17-7 with a 3.36 earned-run average and 182 strikeouts. "He's had a great year. He's given us great innings, pitched deep into games and gotten wins."