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Suddenly, win or go home for stunned Yanks

As the Yankees trudged back to their clubhouse in the wake of Wednesday’s Game 3 of the American League Division Series, they carried their bats, gloves and more than a few what-ifs, absorbing the predicament of needing two wins in two days if their season is to continue.

Perhaps their situation would be different if Masahiro Tanaka had an answer for hot-hitting rookie Randy Arozarena, if Luke Voit had not been rung up on a pair of questionable strikes, or if they hadn’t tried a surprise opener one night prior — all topics to chew on following the Yanks’ 8-4 loss to the Rays.

His start pushed to Game 3 after manager Aaron Boone green-lighted an unsuccessful Game 2 call for the tandem of Deivi García and J.A. Happ, Tanaka was knocked for five runs on eight hits over four-plus innings, serving up a three-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier and exiting after Arozarena’s third homer of the series.

Despite Giancarlo Stanton’s sixth playoff homer, becoming the first Yankee to mash deep drives in five consecutive postseason games, the Yanks’ backs are against the wall. Unless they rally, Wednesday could mark Tanaka’s final start of an otherwise stellar seven-year run in pinstripes — a possibility Tanaka has voiced several times over the past few weeks.

The Yankees managed two runs (one earned) over five innings against Charlie Morton, but they had a rally brewing in the third inning, when the right-hander’s flow was interrupted as he struggled to throw strikes from the stretch.

Aaron Judge lifted a sacrifice fly, and after Aaron Hicks walked to load the bases, Voit reached down to unbuckle his shin guard after a 3-0 sinker that was called a strike by home-plate umpire Mark Carlson. The next pitch was also close and ruled a strike, and Voit grounded out to end the inning.

One night after C.B. Bucknor’s questionable zone was a factor in the Yanks’ 18 strikeouts — a Major League record in a nine-inning postseason game — they also had a legitimate gripe in the fourth inning when Willy Adames walked on a close pitch that could have been a strikeout, throwout double play. Instead, Kiermaier mashed Tanaka’s next pitch over the right-field wall, just another coulda-shoulda to occupy the Yankees’ thoughts during the 40-minute bus ride up Interstate 5.

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