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Sandberg, Phillies prepare for 20-game stretch

MIAMI -- Difficult as it may be to believe, the 20-game streak in consecutive days isn't even the longest the Phillies will see this season.

With a run that began Tuesday in Miami, Philadelphia can look to that and think it only gets tougher in June, when the team plays 21 games in 20 days. The stretch includes a doubleheader on June 28 against the Braves with a makeup of the postponed contest on April 15.

The good thing for the Phils is that after a three-game series at the Marlins, they travel home to face the Dodgers, Rockies and Mets, but they begin their series in Miami against a rookie making his second career start.

Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani earned a win in his Major League debut against the Dodgers, allowing two runs on seven hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

"Another good arm from their system. Tall, lanky. Other than that, we're going to see him for the first time," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Added Ryan Howard: "Looks like he's got some pretty good stuff; a good fastball."

Phillies hitters will probably take a number of pitches to get a feel for DeSclafani, but it also depends on his approach to the Philadelphia lineup.

"It probably just all depends on how he's pitching, if he's attacking or whatnot," Howard said.

When the Phillies hosted the Marlins in April, they swept the three-game set. The Marlins, however, lead all of baseball with a 17-5 record at home, so a carryover would be difficult to predict.

"Coming down here, it's going to be a real battle. We've got our work cut out for us, especially here in this ballpark," Howard said. "They're playing the way they're playing at home and nobody's really questioning it. I don't know if it's sleeping in your own bed -- whatever it is -- but something's working and they're just going with it."

Over the last 10 series against Miami, Philadelphia is 8-1-1 with a 22-9 record overall.

Like any long stretch of consecutive games without a day off, the Phillies will have to preserve their bullpen.

"When you're playing 20 in a row, starters are obviously going to try to pitch deep into games, give the bullpen as much rest as we can and keep our team in the game," said Kyle Kendrick, who starts Wednesday night.

David Furones is an associate reporter for
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