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Didi Gregorius symbolizes Yankees' frustration in loss to Rays

Didi Gregorius of the New York Yankees throws

Didi Gregorius of the New York Yankees throws his bat after lining out to end the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays with the bases loaded at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 Credit: Jim McIsaac

The biggest hit of the eighth inning was absorbed by the wall to the right of the Yankees' dugout when Didi Gregorius -- at the plate with the bases loaded and the Yankees trailing by a run-- rifled his bat after lining a bullet right at Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe for the third out.

A two-out rally had gone for naught and the usually mild- mannered Gregorius -- think Derek Jeter on that trait -- took it upon himself to boil over for the rest of the team in what would become a 3-2 loss.

It was an agonizing defeat, as it turned out, with the AL East-leading Blue Jays beating the Orioles to move 1½ games ahead of the Yankees.

"Frustration,'' Joe Girardi said of Gregorius' action. "I actually kind of like it. I like that he's upset. You don't want to see someone get hurt, and no one did. That's frustration and understanding what time of year it is, and I like his intensity.''

In that inning, with Alex Colome pitching for the Rays, Alex Rodriguez grounded out on a hard-hit ball that seemed headed up the middle but was fielded by Forsythe. Carlos Beltran then drilled a hard liner to first that was grabbed by James Loney. If it had gotten past him, it likely would have been a double.

Chase Headley and Greg Bird followed with singles and pinch hitter Brian McCann walked to load the bases. Then Gregorius -- who was red-hot both entering and after the at-bat -- lined a 2-and-1 pitch right at Forsythe to end the inning.

"If you look at the video, I never get the chance to get out of the box,'' said Gregorius, whose bid for a go-ahead grand slam against the Red Sox fell a few feet short to end last Monday's 4-3 loss. "You want to win. You always want to come through in that situation for the team, you want to get the lead.''

Gregorius -- who entered the big at-bat at 17-for-34 with 13 RBIs in his last nine games -- seemed a bit chagrined when asked about throwing his bat, giving the same one-word answer.

Was it an unusual reaction for him? "Yeah.''

Was it the time of the year and situation in the game? "Yeah.''

He added, "I really wanted to come through right there, so those [reactions] happen.''

He became somewhat defensive when asked about safety concerns, saying: "I know I didn't throw it in the stands, so.'' He said he was not spoken to about it, adding, in an apparent reference to Girardi: "No, why would he say something to me?'

When asked if he thought it was dangerous, he said, "Might have [it] been dangerous throwing the bat? No, nobody [said] anything to me.''

Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi (14-3) took the loss, his first since June 16. He had been 9-0 with a 3.32 ERA in his previous 13 starts.

The key hit against him was a two-out, two-run single to right in the third by Asdrubal Cabrera that gave the Rays a 3-0 lead. Eovaldi had just struck out Forsythe with the bases loaded for the second out, but Cabrera chopped a grounder into the hole that narrowly eluded second baseman Brendan Ryan.

Eovaldi was removed with one out in the sixth after giving up five hits, walking four and striking out seven. He also hit Evan Longoria, who left in the sixth with a bruised right forearm.

"He struggled with his command a little bit today,'' Girardi said. "He still gave us a good opportunity to win the game.''

The Yankees scored twice in the fifth on an RBI double by Gregorius and a run-scoring groundout by Brett Gardner. Until that inning, they had been held to two hits by Matt Moore.

The eighth represented their last chance. "Bullpen did a good job holding them at three runs. It's definitely frustrating,'' Gardner said.

Gardner said he wasn't scoreboard-watching as the Blue Jays won for the 27th time in their last 34 games. "We know that they've got a really good team,'' he said, "and we know they're going to win the majority of their games from here on out and we've got to do the same thing.''

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