Having held Toronto to two runs on 67 pitches through the first six innings, Darrell Rasner was sent back out for the seventh and allowed a leadoff single before Lyle Overbay chopped a bouncer to Cano at second base. Cano intended to get the throw to Jeter with a backhanded flip, but the ball scooted under the shortstop's glove, setting up a three-run inning as the Blue Jays made up a four-run deficit.
Cano departed Yankee Stadium without speaking to reporters, leaving teammates to answer for his miscue. Jeter chafed at a suggestion that some may call the play evidence of Cano's breezy attitude, a criticism that has taken on life as the infielder battles through a down campaign.
"It wasn't a lazy play; it's a play he's made probably 100 times," Jeter said. "In that situation, [the throw] was a little bit low, but you can't say he was nonchalant or anything like that. It's a play that he's good at. He works on it, but in that situation, it was a little bit off."
"Robbie has that smoothness to him that people are going to assume that it's nonchalant," Yankees manager Joe Girardi added. "Robbie Alomar was the same way; he had a smoothness to him, the way he played the game. They're not being nonchalant."
With Rasner then pressing to make something happen in that seventh inning, Jose Bautista snapped a hitless streak of 26 at-bats with an RBI single and worked ahead of Gregg Zaun with an 0-2 count before losing him to a free pass.
Rasner handed the ball off to reliever Brian Bruney, but Joe Inglett punched a two-run single to shallow center field, drawing the Blue Jays to within one run. In the eighth, Bruney allowed a leadoff single to Vernon Wells, and Adam Lind followed suit against Damaso Marte.
After a sacrifice, Bautista drilled another RBI single to tie the game at 6, and Zaun beat out an infield fielder's choice to send Lind across the plate, giving the Blue Jays their first lead of the afternoon and drawing boos from the announced crowd of 53,273.
"They took advantage of the mistake -- you've got to give them credit," Jeter said. "Rasner did a tremendous job. He pitched well and was cruising along. We gave them extra outs, and they scored extra runs and continued to score. We had our opportunities."
The Yankees had one final chance in the ninth inning, as Jeter and Bobby Abreu opened the frame against a wild B.J. Ryan with singles. Alex Rodriguez hit a ball hard, but it was flagged by Bautista, who stepped on the third-base bag and fired across the infield for a crushing double play. Cody Ransom then flied out for the final out.
"It hurts a lot," Rodriguez said. "We had them down, 6-2, and this is a game we'd like to build on and blow them away."
Rasner deserved a better fate. He left a 1-2 pitch over the plate to Wells in the fourth, watching it sail onto the netting over Monument Park for a two-run home run, Wells' 15th, but the right-hander really lamented losing Zaun in the seventh inning.
After Rasner got ahead of the Toronto catcher with an 0-2 count, Zaun worked a free pass as the Yankees' starter tried to be too fine, hoping Zaun would roll over on a ball or pop it up. When he didn't, the chances of erasing Cano's error evaporated.
"It's tough to swallow -- it's been frustrating," Rasner said. "It really has. I get in trouble, and I try and do too much. I just need to do what I'm capable of."
Rasner has not won since July 12 at Toronto, and he said he was at a loss for words, believing that he pitched better than his line of four earned runs in six-plus innings.
He was certainly better than Blue Jays starter John Parrish, who lasted four innings and was charged with four runs on seven hits. New York scored twice in the first inning, as Parrish threw a pair of wild pitches, setting up run-scoring hits by A-Rod and Jason Giambi.
The Yankees regained the lead in the fourth as Cano and Ivan Rodriguez slugged back-to-back home runs, Cano going deep to right for his 13th and Rodriguez to left for his seventh of the year and second since he joined New York.
Hideki Matsui tacked on a two-run double facing Brian Tallet in the fifth to give New York what was a 6-2 advantage, but those hits would be lost in the aftermath of Cano's too-smooth toss across the infield.
"You wish they don't capitalize on it the way they did," Alex Rodriguez said. "You win as a team, and we lose as a team. Robbie had a great day offensively, and he's been playing great defense. It's one of those plays that you wish you could take back."