When Kevin Slowey last took the mound at Citi Field, he found himself in the game that seemingly would never end.
It was June 8, 2013, and the Marlins and Mets engaged in a marathon that lasted 20 innings and eclipsed six hours and 25 minutes.
The Marlins ended up prevailing, 2-1. Jose Fernandez went six innings for Miami, and Matt Harvey threw seven innings. But the bullpens decided it. And Slowey emerged as the winning pitcher, logging seven innings while striking out eight.
"I remember there weren't a whole lot of clean innings, on either side," Slowey said. "There were a lot of opportunities, a lot of chances. I remember coming up to bat in the 14th and the 17th. There were a lot of times being up there. It was a new experience. It's the longest game I've ever been a part of. It was one of longest games I'd ever seen."
On Saturday, the Marlins and Mets will be hoping for a much crisper, shorter contest.
Slowey will get the start, appearing at Citi Field for the first time since the 20-inning affair.
New York is going with Jenrry Mejia, who was in the Minor Leagues at the time of the marathon game.
The Mets claimed this weekend's series opener with a 4-3 walk-off win over Miami in the ninth inning.
Mejia heads into Saturday on a roll. The 24-year-old is 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA, striking out 25 in 22 2/3 innings. In his last outing, Mejia threw 6 2/3 innings, giving up no earned runs in a win over the Cardinals.
From the start, Mejia was superb, striking out five over his first three innings. Showing no ill effects from the blister that forced him out of his previous outing after only 77 pitches, he buzzed his way through six innings without much issue.
"It bothered me a little bit, but last year I felt pain in here," Mejia said after the game.
Mejia has dealt with enough medical issues, like right elbow cleanup surgery, that he acted like a blister was a minor ailment.
Slowey, meanwhile, has not been involved in a decision in five games (one start).
The veteran right-hander opened the season as a long reliever, but he is getting his second start in place of Jacob Turner, who is on the disabled list with a right shoulder sprain.
"I'll go out there for as long as they want to keep me out there," Slowey said.
Mets: Softening schedule still presents challenges
Though the Marlins entered this weekend's series at Citi Field in last place in the NL East, the second-place Mets -- sitting just two games above them in the standings -- were not about to overlook their division rivals. In particular, New York's pitchers' meeting Friday focused on the top third of Miami's lineup: Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton.
"They're all very, very good players," manager Terry Collins said. "Those top three guys -- Yelich, Ozuna and Stanton -- are three of the real top talented young players in the game. They're very tough. They're swinging the bats good, obviously. You've got to keep people off the bases, because if Giancarlo gets something he can handle, he can put multiple runs up there in a hurry."
Still, the Mets are thrilled to be done with one of the toughest stretches of their entire season. Their previous six games had come against the defending NL champion Cardinals and NL East champion Braves, on the heels of a nine-game road trip through Atlanta, Los Angeles and Arizona. After this weekend's series, the Mets embark on a 10-game road swing through Philadelphia, Colorado and Miami -- playing third- through fifth-place teams in each stop.
Marlins: Finding late-inning relief help
The Marlins' bullpen has certainly struggled in the late innings, and the club is looking for someone to step up. Lefty Mike Dunn and right-hander A.J. Ramos have handled the bulk of the eighth-inning load.
The hope is Carlos Marmol, the most experienced of the group, will emerge to take charge of the inning. Marmol, however, is overcoming a tight right hamstring that he suffered on Wednesday in Atlanta.
Marmol is cleared to return, but chances are he will sit out a couple of more games, especially if the weather is chilly in New York.
Dunn has had a rough go.
"I think it's been some pitching behind in counts and making some mistakes up in the zone as well," manager Mike Redmond said. "I think with pitchers, it's always centered around the same things. It's getting behind hitters and making mistakes up in the zone. It's the same for everyone. When they're going, they're consistently down in the zone and ahead. It's consistently strike one, strike two."
• Yelich had his personal-best 17-game hitting streak come to an end after going 0-for-4 with a walk on Friday night. The Miami left fielder batted .366 (26-for-71) during the stretch that began on April 3.
• In the loss, Steve Cishek had his Marlins record streak of 33 consecutive saves also come to an end. The closer last was unable to convert a save chance on June 4, 2003, at Philadelphia.
• The Mets have rallied for nine of their 13 wins, including two when trailing after eight innings.
• Over their last 11 games, Mets pitchers have a 1.81 ERA (14 earned runs in 69 2/3 innings).