Cano hits two homers, but Yanks can't hold off Jays
Teixeira strains left calf in 11-inning series-opening defeat to Toronto
NEW YORK -- The Yankees were one strike away from posting a win that would have calmed what had already been a stressful evening, but Rafael Soriano grooved a slider that changed everything for the worse.
Colby Rasmus slugged a three-run homer off the closer in the ninth inning and the Blue Jays took advantage of Derek Lowe's wild 11th-inning pickoff throw, handing New York a crushing 8-7 defeat on Monday at Yankee Stadium.
"He's been so good for us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Soriano, who blew just his third save in 36 chances this season. "We've seen him close so many games for us and do a great job. Tonight just wasn't his night."
For the Yankees, the defeat was exacerbated by bad news concerning first baseman Mark Teixeira, who suffered a Grade 1 strain of his left calf running the bases in the fourth inning. He will miss at least a week of action.
"We've lost a lot of people in the course of this year, so if unfortunately he's out, then someone else is going to have to do the job," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "That's basically what you have to do all year long, and we have to do it again."
The Yankees weren't done after Rasmus unloaded on his moonshot into the second deck in right field. Jeter responded by slugging the second pitch he saw from Casey Janssen over the wall, tying the game with a blast that sent the contest into extra innings.
It was an at-bat Jeter would rather not have had. Jeter said that, pounding his glove at shortstop, he was figuring the Yankees were about to shake hands and hit the clubhouse spread when Soriano got the second strike on Rasmus.
"You think so," Jeter said. "He's been so good all year, but hey, the guy hit a home run. You have to tip your cap to them, and they beat us."
After Darren Oliver set New York down in the 10th, Toronto took the lead as pinch-runner Mike McCoy raced to third base on Lowe's errant pickoff toss down the right-field line, then scored on Adeiny Hechavarria's grounder as third baseman Jayson Nix had little choice but to whip the throw to first base.
"He doesn't have time to look the runner back," Girardi said. "It's great baserunning by McCoy. That's exactly what you teach. If the ball's hit a little harder, they can't do that, but it was the perfect ball."
Lowe said that his wild throw was "inexcusable," sailing past first baseman Eric Chavez. Lowe still had a chance to escape, striking out the next hitter, but Hechavarria got just the right amount of bat on ball.
"I think it's just kind of reaction," McCoy said. "I just saw the play develop in front of me and I just read it and went."
The late finish lengthened an evening in which Robinson Cano homered twice and Nick Swisher also went deep to support starter David Phelps, who turned in 6 1/3 innings of four-run ball and departed to a standing ovation in the seventh.
"He did a really good job for us again," Girardi said of Phelps. "His starts have been really good. What he's done for us this year has been really, really good. It's unfortunate we weren't able to get him a win."
Phelps, who permitted a second-inning solo homer to Adam Lind and a Yorvit Torrealba two-run shot in the sixth, walked one and struck out seven, scattering five hits.
"There were a couple pitches I left up in the zone and I got hurt for it, but other than that, I felt like I had good command of my stuff tonight," Phelps said.
Hechavarria also had a run-scoring single in the seventh inning off Cody Eppley, driving home the final run charged to Phelps.
New York touched starter Henderson Alvarez for four runs in 3 1/3 innings, starting with Cano's first-inning blast to snap a 38 at-bat homerless streak. The homer was the 170th of Cano's career, surpassing Tony Lazzeri's franchise record for second basemen.
Cano added a second blast facing Alvarez in the fourth inning, kicking off a three-run frame for the Yankees and marking his ninth career multihomer game.
Russell Martin laced a run-scoring single off Alvarez's left shin, creating a bruise that forced the hurler from the game. Raul Ibanez also had a run-scoring fielder's choice in the inning.
One other positive of the evening for the Yankees was the continuation of a red-hot August for Swisher, who has racked up 21 RBIs this month, not that they were much in the mood to talk about such things.
"We're just trying to win games," Jeter said. "We play everybody in our division, so the position that we're in, we just need to win games. We lost this one, but we'll come right back tomorrow night."