Valentino Pascucci hadn't played in a couple of days and hadn't gotten a hit in more than a week. But he found his rhythm on an historic night in Buffalo.
Pascucci capped his fourth career three-homer game with his 200th Minor League blast Friday night, powering the Bisons to a 6-4 victory over the Indianapolis Indians.
The 31-year-old slugger made getting his 200th homer a goal for this season. He had 193 when he joined the Bisons in mid-May, then went deep in three of his first five games with the club before connecting as a pinch-hitter on June 2.
But Pascucci was hitless in his last 12 at-bats and mired in a 1-for-24 slump that had knocked his average down to .203.
"We figured they had a lefty out there pitching tonight and I said [it's] a good time to get Val in there tonight and get some ABs," Bisons manager Ken Oberkfell said.
Pascucci rewarded his manager's faith by staking Buffalo to an early lead with a three-run blast in the first inning.
"It was a 3-2 count and I fouled off a tough pitch just before," he said. "It was a cutter in and [Brian Burres] left it out over the plate. I put a short, quick swing on it."
Pascucci homered again leading off the third, leaving him one shy of the milestone. After striking out in the fifth, he led off the eighth against reliever Vinnie Chulk.
"It wasn't really on my mind," Pascucci said. "I knew the guy was throwing 93-94 [mph], I was just being ready for a fastball. He threw me one away that I fouled straight back and thought, 'I just missed that. If he comes in again, I'll be ready.'"
Chulk came in again and Pascucci launched a blast off the light pole in left field at Coca-Cola Field.
"He left it a little over the plate and I barreled it," Pascucci said. "It was one of the farther ones I've hit."
It also gave the Bisons some breathing room after Indianapolis scored three times in the top of the eighth to climb within a run.
"He's had good swings, he just hasn't been getting hits," Oberkfell said. "That's why we got him. He's the kind of guy who might strike out a lot, but he's got a chance to do what he did tonight."
Actually, Pascucci had done it three times before, twice with Triple-A Edmonton in 2004 and most recently with Triple-A New Orleans on Aug. 2, 2008. Like the Bisons, New Orleans was the Mets' top Minor League affiliate at the time.
"There's a comfort level here," Pascucci said. "I'd been with Obie and [hitting coach] Jack Voigt before and I knew I was coming into a good place."
Pascucci also is teammates with Mike Hessman, the Minor Leagues' active home run leader with 329.
"He's the king," Pascucci said. "I think even his teammates call him that. Hess and I get along great. We've played against each other before. It's one of those great things with guys going back and forth, see how far he hit that one. Teammates, the fans are getting into it."