CHICAGO -- The Cardinals tested the Cubs' pitching all day on Sunday, but the biggest at-bat may have come in the eighth inning when Chicago manager Joe Maddon made it tough on reliever Brian Duensing.
"Going by our work, Duensing is a really good matchup on Carpenter," Maddon said, referring to the Cubs' scouting reports. "I did not want to run away from that matchup. Before the play occurred, I thought, 'If this guy hits a double and second and third, first base open ... we'll walk the guy and pitch to Carpenter.' ... I've got Mr. [Jeremy] Greenhouse in my back pocket, so I chose to walk him."
Greenhouse is the Cubs' assistant director of research and development, and one of the so-called "geeks" who provides Maddon with numbers regarding batter-pitcher matchups to help with the lineups, situations. Perhaps they should call him "the baseball whisperer."
What was Duensing's take on the at-bat?
"I felt like the way Carpenter swung at the slider, I thought he was kind of on it a little bit or knew it was coming, and I didn't like it," Duensing said of his approach. "We changed the signs and we started off first-pitch fastball middle, then fastball away, slider, and we got to 1-2 and switched it up and went changeup. We got him to swing over the top of it."
It wasn't all pretty. Duensing slipped off the mound after he struck out Carpenter, which closer Wade Davis was quick to point out.
"I almost fell after the pitch," Duensing said. "I didn't go down. I stayed up. That's the most important thing. My spike got caught and I was off balance. I was too fired up, I guess."
It's that time of year.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.