Daniel Bard demoted by Red Sox; Joel Hanrahan to return

The Red Sox optioned Daniel Bard back to Double A Portland after Sunday’s 6-1 victory against Houston. A corresponding move was not announced, but the team is expected to activate righthander Joel Hanrahan off the disabled list before Tuesday’s game in Toronto.

Hanrahan threw a scoreless inning for Triple A Pawtucket Sunday, allowing a walk but consistently hitting 96 miles per hour with his fastball.

Hanrahan walked the first batter he faced then retired the side.

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“Physically, I felt good,” Hanrahan told the Providence Journal. “Obviously, it didn’t start off right with the leadoff walk. I was a little jumpy, a little excited. I was able to step back, get things going. Overall, I felt good. That’s the main thing.”

Hanrahan has been on the DL since April 14 with a hamstring strain following several poor outings.

“I feel like the thing that’s been holding me back isn’t holding me back anymore,” Hanrahan said. “I feel like I can go back to the big leagues and compete.”

Andrew Bailey has converted five of six save chances filling in for Hanrahan. Over eight innings, Bailey has allowed two runs and struck out 13.

Manager John Farrell has not said whether Hanrahan will work as a closer immediately upon returning.

The Red Sox called up Bard Tuesday to provide protection for the bullpen after Steven Wright threw 82 pitches in a relief appearance and was returned to the minors.

Bard was not necessarily ready after making only eight appearances for Portland. But he was the only healthy reliever on the 40-man roster who was available.

The Red Sox wanted to keep rookie righthander Alex Wilson. In six appearances, he has thrown six scoreless innings.

Lefthander Craig Breslow also pitched an inning for Pawtucket Sunday, allowing a run on a hit and two walks.

Breslow did not pitch in spring training because of a shoulder injury and Farrell suggested that he may need a few more appearances before being ready.

Victorino out again

The Red Sox went a fourth day without Shane Victorino, who is out with inflammation in his lower back. He has missed six of the last nine games with the injury.

Victorino has not spoken to reporters since before Wednesday’s game. Farrell said while there has been some improvement, Victorino is not ready to play.

“We’re hopeful that [in] the upcoming series, he will be available to us. He’s still day to day at this point,” Farrell said.

“We’ve got to do everything at this point to make sure those symptoms subside. Whether it’s Game 1 or Game 3 in that series up there, it’s going to depend on his being symptom-free.”

Victorino has gone four days without playing and Monday would be five. If he were not ready to play Tuesday, the Sox would have to give some thought to retroactively placing him on the 15-day disabled list.

If Victorino were put on the DL, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. could return from Pawtucket.

Ortiz on tear

David Ortiz has hit safely in 20 consecutive games dating to July 2. That is the longest such streak of his career.

Ortiz is hitting .471 (33 of 70) in that span with seven doubles, four home runs, and 17 RBIs.

Ortiz also has started a fashion trend in the clubhouse. Nearly the entire roster wore blue T-shirts under their uniforms that read, “This is our [expletive] city!”

The shirts have been popping up all over Boston after Ortiz’s emotional speech to the crowd at Fenway April 20 after the capture of Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Thanks for coming

The Sox are 11-2 against the Astros, 7-0 at Fenway Park . . . Dustin Pedroia is 9 for his last 19 with four doubles and four RBIs. His batting average is up to .330 and his OPS stands at .832 . . . Jacoby Ellsbury was caught stealing for the first time in 12 tries when Jason Castro threw him out at second in the second inning . . . Astros hitters struck out 41 times in the four games. They lead the majors with 248 strikeouts, an incredible 9.9 per game . . . Mike Carp was 2 for 3 with a double. He is 10 for his last 19 with seven extra-base hits . . . Sox pitchers have struck out 248 batters this month. The MLB record for any month is 264 by the Cleveland Indians in July 1964 . . . The Sox are 18-7 after 25 games. They were 11-14 after 25 games in each of the previous three seasons.