NEW YORK — Booed as he walked off the Yankee Stadium mound in the third inning, Sonny Gray smiled.
A few moments later, third base coach Phil Nevin screamed at players in the New York dugout.
The Yankees headed to their four-game series at Fenway Park after perhaps their worst performance this season, a 7-5 defeat Wednesday to the Baltimore Orioles, who have the worst record in the major leagues. And to Alex Cobb, who leads the big leagues in losses.
"We're a lot better than what we did today," Nevin said. "People have different ways of firing guys up. I think that was my first one this year, I guess."
Gleyber Torres raised his homer total to 17 with a solo shot in the second and a three-run drive in the ninth, but the rookie second baseman also failed to cover first base on Caleb Joseph's second-inning bunt and second on Renato Nunez's third-inning grounder to shortstop, leading to hits both times.
Gray (8-8) may have lost his rotation spot after putting New York in a 7-1 deficit. Lance Lynn followed with 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his Yankees debut and first relief appearance since 2012, and manager Aaron Boone wouldn't commit to staying with Gray.
"That's something that we'll talk about now in the hours ahead, days ahead about what our plans will be going forward," Boone said.
The smirk: On an afternoon that began with a partly sunny sky, Gray left under dark clouds just before a 39-minute rain delay.
He tied his career high by allowing seven runs, giving up eight hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings as his ERA rose to 5.56. Gray wiped his faced as he left the mound, adjusted his cap and then smirked when fans jeered.
"I've never been a guy to come off the field and throw a glove or throw a hat or punch something or do anything," Gray said. "I've always been a mellow guy that tries to think things through and get over it."
Gray said fans shouldn't question his desire because of his demeanor.
"You can go around and ask the 24 other guys in this clubhouse who I am, what kind of person I am, what I'm about, and they'll tell you," he said. "You've seen me do that before."
He is 12-15 with a 4.85 ERA since he was acquired from Oakland at last year's trade deadline. His ERA this year is 7.71 at Yankee Stadium and 3.62 on the road.
"I've struggled. I don't know if it has anything to do with New York, or it's just strictly on the field," he said.
The tweets: Then a 19-year-old at Vanderbilt, Gray tweeted on Oct. 29, 2009, that "You have to be really good to get all of Yankee stadium to boo you as you're walking off the mound...and a hall of famer to smile about it." That was when Pedro Martinez lost World Series Game 2 to New York.
Gray was asked about another tweet, one from Sept. 12, 2012, that said "1. You didn't go to college. 2. You are black." He said the tweet, since deleted, was a response to Rashun Dixon, a teammate in the Oakland minor league system whose brother Anthony played in the NFL.
"That's an inside joke," Gray said. "And if people are trying to dig stuff up, then ask Sir Peanut. He's one of my best friends," referring to Dixon by his Twitter handle.
New York (68-38) dropped 5½ games behind Boston (75-34). This is the first time since the leagues split into divisions in 1969 that two teams in the same division began August with a winning percentage .640 or higher, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The eruption: Boone, a laid-back Californian, understood the eruption by the extroverted Nevin.
"Over the course of the season you're going to have outbursts from guys, from coaches, from me, whatever, so just emotion of the season, of the game," he said.
First baseman Greg Bird said the lashing was needed.
"We were dragging a little bit today," he said.
The flop: Baltimore, which traded six veterans for prospects in recent weeks, took a 5-0 lead in the second. Trey Mancini hit a run-scoring single, and Joseph reached on a bunt single as third baseman Miguel Andujar delayed his throw because Torres didn't sprint to cover first.
Renato Nunez followed with a two-run double and Tim Beckham had a two-run single.
Torres led off the bottom half with his first home run since July 1, and Cobb (3-14) struck out Giancarlo Stanton to end the inning, leaving the Yankees 0 for 15 with four sacrifice flies in their last 19 plate appearances with the bases loaded.
Mancini homered in the third, and Breyvic Valera greeted Gray with a grounder to Didi Gregorius. The shortstop looked to second for a force, saw Torres wasn't there, and then threw too late to first as another run scored.
"I know I missed a couple plays," Torres said. "I feel pretty bad."
Torres, 21, was a shortstop until last year.
"A lot of that is youthfulness, his inexperience at the position, the nuances where you just do things all the time, second nature," Boone said.
Andujar hit a based loaded-single against Mychal Givens in the eighth, but Paul Fry got pinch-hitter Neil Walker to ground into an inning-ending double play. After Torres' two-out homer against Mike Wright Jr., Bird followed a game-ending popup.
Lynn threw 71 pitches, which rules him out for a start at Boston. But he could be in the rotation soon.
"When they've told me I go pitch, I go pitch," he said.
Trainer's room: Boone said the team will not know until Thursday at the earliest whether LHP J.A. Happ will recover from hand, foot and mouth disease in time to start Saturday.
Up next: LHP CC Sabathia (6-4) starts the opener against Boston and LHP Brian Johnson (1-3), who pitches in place of injured ace Chris Sale.