CLEVELAND — Before Friday night’s game, Joe Girardi talked about his club’s “approach” at the plate and how it needed improvement.
“The results aren’t what they’re supposed to be,” Girardi said, hinting some hitters have been trying to do too much.
Maybe the results will be different Saturday night. They sure weren’t Friday.
Swinging balsa wood for a fourth straight game, the Yankees went down quietly to the Indians, 7-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 34,466 at Progressive Field.
The Yankees (57-51) dropped their fourth straight and fifth in six games. In the last three losses, they have scored three runs, struck out 31 times and gone 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position. They fell three games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox.
New acquisition Jaime Garcia was pedestrian in his first outing for the Yankees, allowing six runs (five earned), five hits and four walks in 4 2⁄3 innings. The Yankees’ defense also left much to be desired, with Gary Sanchez at the head of that list, and the offense again wore the goat horns. The Yankees outhit the Indians 11-8 but fell behind early and never threatened.
“I thought our at-bats were better tonight,’’ Girardi said. “We ended up with  hits. We didn’t score a lot of runs, but I thought we had better at-bats. We gave up too many runs.”
Righthander Trevor Bauer, 9-8 with a 5.25 ERA coming in, flummoxed the Yankees for seven innings with his looping curveball. He allowed one run, seven hits and two walks and struck out seven, with five of those coming in his final 2 1⁄3 innings.
Todd Frazier’s 18th homer of the season, an opposite-field shot in the fifth, gave the Yankees their only run until Brett Gardner delivered a meaningless two-out RBI single in the ninth.
Aaron Judge reached base three times with a single and two walks but struck out for the 22nd straight game. He is 12-for-69 with 30 strikeouts in 20 games since the All-Star break. Matt Holliday went 0-for-4, dropping him to 11-for-81 with 24 strikeouts in 20 games since returning from a viral infection.
The AL Central-leading Indians (59-48) took the lead for good in the second. With two outs, Carlos Santana walked and Austin Jackson yanked a fastball down the leftfield line for a double. Santana chugged around from first and just beat Didi Gregorius’ relay throw, allowing Jackson to take third. With Roberto Perez at the plate, Sanchez was charged with a passed ball, making it 2-0.
A poor decision by Judge contributed to another Cleveland rally in the bottom of the third. Brandon Guyer led off with a single and Michael Brantley followed with a single to right. Guyer had third easily but Judge nonetheless came up firing. His throw skipped off a sliding Guyer and into the seats, making it 3-0 and putting Brantley on second. Jose Ramirez’s groundout and Edwin Encarnacion’s sacrifice fly gave the Indians a 4-0 lead.
After Todd Frazier’s one-out homer in the fifth made it 4-1, Ronald Torreyes singled and went to third when Gardner sent a hit-and-run grounder into the hole at short. That put runners at the corners for Clint Frazier and set up the inning’s turning point.
Frazier hit a high chopper to third that, at the very least, appeared would get Torreyes home. But third baseman Giovanny Urshela made a leaping grab, and as his momentum carried him behind the bag into foul ground, he delivered a strike to the plate to nip the sliding Torreyes for the second out.
Judge worked a walk to lead the bases for Sanchez, but Bauer struck him out on a 1-and-2 pitch in the dirt, his fifth curveball in six pitches.
Sanchez’s rough night continued in the bottom of the inning. Guyer walked with one out, stole second and scored on Brantley’s single. Brantley went to second on a wild pitch and to third on Jose Ramirez’s groundout. After Chad Green replaced Garcia to face Encarnacion, Sanchez failed to block another pitch in the dirt, and the wild pitch made it 6-1.
“He needs to improve,’’ Girardi said of Sanchez’s ability to block pitches. “Bottom line, he needs to improve.’’
Doubles by Ramirez and Encarnacion in the eighth gave the Indians a 7-1 lead.
Notes & quotes: Judge has struck out in 26 of his last 27 games (43 strikeouts) and 29 of his last 31 games (47 strikeouts).