Returning from injury used to be an exciting moment for Brandon McCarthy, but that feeling gradually wore off after having to do it so many times over his career.
McCarthy takes a major league mound for the first time in more than two months as the Arizona Diamondbacks conclude a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Sunday at Fenway Park.
Shoulder problems are nothing new for McCarthy (2-4, 5.00 ERA), who went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation after giving up six runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 9-5 loss to Texas on May 30. After so many issues in recent years, he's simply relieved to be getting back on the mound.
"Now I feel like when I come back again, it's just a normal start," McCarthy told the team's official website.
The right-hander allowed three runs while throwing 85 pitches in six innings of his second rehab start July 26. Arizona's starters had a 3.63 ERA at the time of his injury, but they've posted a 4.29 mark during his DL stint.
"I felt comfortable and I was able to get back into mental game shape. Nothing bothered me," McCarthy said after his rehab outing. "I was able to get into the sixth and felt strong. I felt like I had more in the tank, too, so that was encouraging. In terms of pitching, I feel like I'm where I need to be."
McCarthy won both of his starts against the Red Sox in 2012 while with Oakland, giving up one run in 6 2-3 innings of a 1-0 win May 2 and two runs in 6 1-3 frames of a 20-2 victory Aug. 31.
He'll be opposed by Felix Doubront, who has been a pleasant surprise this season while putting his name into the club's record books.
Doubront (7-5, 3.77) has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 14 straight starts, the longest streak for a Boston left-hander since at least 1920 and the best by any Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2002.
He took the loss against Tampa Bay in each of his last two starts, though, as David Price tossed gems for the Rays. Doubront gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-1 defeat July 24 before allowing two runs over five in Monday's 2-1 loss.
Though the Red Sox (67-45) weren't able to provide Doubront with much run support in those outings, they've averaged 6.4 runs while winning four of their last five.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run homer and Shane Victorino added a solo shot in Saturday's 5-2 win over Arizona. Left fielder Jonny Gomes threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the eighth.
"Jonny Gomes might be my favorite player in the big leagues,'' said a joking Jake Peavy, who won his first start since coming over from the White Sox at the trade deadline.
The Diamondbacks (56-54) have dropped five of seven and have scored three runs or fewer in each defeat. Paul Goldschmidt, who hit his 26th homer of the season Saturday, is 7 for 39 (.179) with 16 strikeouts over his last 10 games, with five of those hits leaving the ballpark.
Boston has won six of the last seven meetings with Arizona.