June 12, 1990 – The Cubs were floundering in mid-June, having just won four games that probably provided a sliver of hope to the most optimistic, they needed to continue that roll against the New York Mets. The first of three games in two days pitted Dwight Gooden against Mike Bielecki. A year earlier this would’ve been a marquee matchup, but on this date both pitchers were struggling to find their top form.
Bielecki started the game and did not last long at all – pitching 1.1 while giving up 8 runs (6 earned). Kevin Blankenship followed Bielecki with 2.2 innings; Dean Wilkins and Joe Kramer then got the Cubs through the first 8 innings at Wrigley. By the time the top of the ninth started, the four pitchers had coughed up 19 runs and each had been tagged at some point by the 4th place Mets. Even with the offense fighting valiantly, the score was an impossible 19-6. (I always had a certain disdain for those late-80s Mets, especially for some reason, Dave Magadan and Kevin McReynolds – and those two were absolutely battering the Cubs on this day).
And then Don Zimmer discovered the best pitcher in Cubs history. Doug Dascenzo didn’t start the game in the field that day (he only started 54 times for the Cubs that year) but when Zimmer raised up his left arm, Dascenzo answered the call. The consummate fourth outfielder, the 5’7″ Dascenzo was skilled as a defender, and terrible with the bat. On the mound against the Mets, Dascenzo threw 8 pitches while facing only three batters (with the help of a Tim Teufel double-play) and even recorded a strikeout.
His time as a reliever was such a success (and the Cubs were so terrible) that Dascenzo would get 3 more chances to pitch for the Cubs the following season. Each time the Cubs were on the wrong side of lopsided scores and Dascenzo helped preserve the bullpen for the following day. He never surrendered a run in four appearances.
Dascenzo’s career stat line as a pitcher was 5 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BBs, 2 Ks, against a total of 18 batters. He never became more useful than a 4th outfielder though, finishing his playing career with short stints in Texas and San Diego.
In 2006 he became a manager in the Padres’ farm system. After stops in Eugene, Fort Wayne, and San Antonio, Dascenzo is now part of the Atlanta Braves organization with the title “Minor League Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator.” Perhaps along the way he’ll give a bit of pitching advice to a struggling outfielder.