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Bobby Witt Jr. triple sparks Royals comeback. His team couldn’t stop talking about it

In the bottom of the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium, bat in his hands, Bobby Witt Jr. strolled through a Royals dugout that trailed by two.

On the mound, Mariners right-hander Ryne Stanek jogged in from the left-field bullpen, his triple-digit fastball the attention of his warmup pitches.

And Witt turned toward his teammates and repeated three words — well, four, but his Texas English has a way of abbreviation.

“Y’all like walk-offs?” he asked.

Prophetic.

But to be clear: This is very much about running. Ain’t no walking about it.

The Royals stormed back to beat the Mariners 10-9 in the opener of a three-game series Friday, with Witt delivering a game-tying triple in the middle of the rally.

It wasn’t just about the ninth. The Mariners once led by eight, actually, including 7-0 after blitzing left-hander Daniel Lynch in the top of the first inning. The Royals are the first team since 1995 to win a baseball game in which they allowed seven-plus runs in the first inning and failed to respond with any of their own, per Sarah Langs of MLB.

And to think: All they needed were 11 seconds.

Well, all he needed.

The most thrilling play of the Royals season lasted 10.98 seconds — which, for context, is less than half the time that an AI tool suggests it required you to reach this paragraph of the column.

Witt approached the plate so calmly that he didn’t even notice the crowd had begun to chant his name, he would later say. That’s a design he’s practiced through meditation, a process he described to me during spring training. In the meditation dream, of sorts, the result is always the same.

He comes through.

Realistic, huh?

The ball traveled only 80 feet in the air off his bat, but he blistered it 103.5 miles per hour down the third-base line, per Statcast. He took a peek on his way to first and noticed left fielder Luke Raley was inexplicably playing a mile off the line, and Witt knew he had a pretty good chance at a triple.

For the record, manager Matt Quatraro knew far earlier.

“As soon as the ball left the bat,” he said, “I’m like, that’s a triple. There’s no way he’s gonna stop.”

It took about 4.2 seconds to touch first.

Then 3.2 more to reach second.

And 3.6 more to punctuate the final destination with headfirst dive into third.

Witt is just the second player in baseball this season to break 11 seconds on home to third — and obviously the first at Kauffman Stadium this year. Arizona’s Corbin Carroll went home to third in 10.76 on a triple last month.

The postgame conversation inside the clubhouse lasted far longer.

“Looks like a freaking deer,” Royals pinch-hitter Garrett Hampson said.

“That guy’s special, man,” fellow pinch-hitter Nick Lofton replied.

“It looks like he’s floating,” Hampson said.

“Once he hits second,” Loftin said, “he somehow keeps getting faster and faster.”

In the other end of the Royals’ clubhouse, Michael Massey sat next to Witt and wondered if he’d been moving so fast that he might’ve been on the verge of stumbling over. He cited Witt’s right arm, which he whipped through the air as he turned around second.

“That’s how I turn the corner,” Witt explained.

He is how the Royals have turned one.

Witt’s average sits at .323 after Friday, the leader in the American League. His seventh triple is second most in the league.

He’s not delivered a more important one this year.

Have the Royals? They produced back-to-back come-from-behind wins this week. The first came with perhaps a little more importance against the American League Central division leader.

The second? With a little more speed.

Well, and a prophecy.