A.J. homers for first time in nearly 10 years
PITTSBURGH -- Ashton Burnett was a few months old the last time his old man hit a home run in a Major League game, and the 11-year-old has been asking Daddy to do it again ever since.
In the fifth inning on Saturday night, A.J. Burnett finally granted his son's wish, accounting for the first wave of a tsunami of emotions in the Pirates' 6-5, 14-inning win over the Cardinals.
"Running around the bases, all I could think about was my 11-year-old begging me for a home run. I tried to explain to him, it's not that easy to hit one," said Burnett, who frankly did make it look simple.
With the Cardinals' John Lackey working on a two-hit shutout and with two outs, Burnett hammered an 0-2 fastball over the wall in left-center, above and several rows beyond the 383-foot sign.
"I put a good swing on it and ran into one," was Burnett's explanation.
As Burnett rounded first base, he pointed toward PNC Park's suite level, where Ashton "was going crazy," according to his wife, Karen.
"I tried to let him know it probably won't happen," Burnett said of a conversation they'd had before he started what he said will be his final season. "But it did, and as I rounded first, all I thought about was him. My little man. ... He thinks his daddy can do it all."
Ashton now knows Pops can, indeed, do it all -- pitch his best ball at 38, make his first All-Star team, go deep to wake up an entire stadium and city.
"Wow" was the only reaction manager Clint Hurdle could muster as Burnett's blow stirred to life a crowd that had been silently watching Lackey's mastery.
"It was fun," said Burnett. "Definitely one of the highlights for me this year."
The home run was the fourth of Burnett's 17-year career but the first since July 24, 2005. Still with his original team, the Marlins, Burnett went yard off San Francisco's Kevin Correia.
The last Pirates pitcher to homer had been Burnett's fellow 2015 All-Star, Gerrit Cole, who went out of Wrigley Field last Sept. 7.
The last Pittsburgh pitcher to homer in PNC Park was Matt Morris, on Aug. 4, 2007, off the Reds' Bobby Livingston.