"It's definitely been tough," said Rasmus, who entered the ninth inning with two hits in his last 41 at-bats. "But I've been through [slumps] before, you have to ride those out, keep working and keep trying to find a way to get it back. Hopefully this will get me going again, and get our team going."
The Blue Jays appeared well on their way to an eighth-consecutive loss as Rasmus stepped to the plate with two on and two outs in the ninth inning. All of that changed in a blink of an eye as Rasmus turned a two-run deficit into a one-run lead with one swing of the bat.
Rasmus sent the second pitch he saw from Yankees closer Rafael Soriano to deep right field. The no-doubt shot soared deep into the seats and gave Rasmus at least a temporary break from a prolonged skid that saw him strike out 14 times in his previous 18 at-bats.
The 21st home run of Rasmus' season was his first since Aug. 7 and just his third since the All-Star break. It has been a frustrating month, but the timely homer provided an opportunity to sit back and take a deep sigh of relief for at least one game.
"I definitely felt better today overall," said Rasmus, who also singled in the sixth inning. "I took some good swings, which I was happy about, and I was letting the ball get to me. I've been trying to hit the ball too hard and not being patient out there. Today, I was waiting for the ball to get to me and let my hands work."
While Rasmus' moonshot gave the Blue Jays a second life, the game proved to be far from over. Closer Casey Janssen entered in the bottom half of the inning and promptly surrendered a solo shot to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, which tied the game at 7. That went down as Janssen's second blown save since taking over the closer's role in May, but also the second in his past three opportunities.
With the Blue Jays playing extra innings for the 11th time this season, they turned to an unlikely hero. Mike McCoy was called upon to pinch-run in the top of the 11th after a leadoff single by Yorvit Torrealba. McCoy later advanced all the way to third as Yankees right-hander Derek Lowe attempted to pick him off first base, but sailed his throw down the right-field line.
The Yankees appeared as though they still might be able to escape the jam as Lowe struck out Moises Sierra for the first out and then induced a ground ball to third base with a drawn-in infield. But third baseman Jayson Nix failed to check on McCoy as he ran in to field the ball.
McCoy timed it perfectly, and broke home as soon as Nix released the ball to first. Toronto's veteran utility man slid home safely with the go-ahead run and the Blue Jays held on for just their sixth win in the month of August.
"He wants to get the out there, hoping I don't go, I assume," McCoy said. "If he pump fakes and doesn't throw it, I'm pretty much hung out to dry if Jeter's coming in behind."
With Rasmus and McCoy reaping the benefits of the late-inning dramatics, it was Lowe who took the blame in the opposing clubhouse. He suffered his first loss since signing with the Yankees earlier this month, and shouldered the responsibility for the throw to first which set up Toronto's rally.
"It's inexcusable," Lowe said. "It happened, and we had a chance of getting the guy [McCoy], but he did an excellent job of reading the ball out there. Speed paid off, and that was the winning run."
Earlier in the game, the Blue Jays' rash of injuries continued as both Henderson Alvarez and Aaron Laffey left the mound with bruises. Alvarez, who surrendered four runs, was struck by a hard liner up the middle off the bat of catcher Russell Martin.
Alvarez was diagnosed with a left shin bruise and is day to day, but there was no immediate word on whether the native of Venezuela would be able to make his next start.
Laffey came on in relief, but he too departed with a bruise on his left leg. The southpaw was hit in the sixth inning on a hard grounder by Jeter and did not come back for the seventh after having surrendered a pair of runs on one hit and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.
Both pitchers are expected to be OK, which was welcome news for a club that already has 12 players on the disabled list.