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Theo Epstein has strong words for lowly Cubs

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Theo Epstein has strong words for lowly Cubs

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- Theo Epstein expected some rough stretches. He just didn't envision anything like this. A few hours after addressing his team's skid, the Chicago Cubs broke one of the longest losing streaks in franchise history, beating the San Diego Padres 11-7 on Monday. That ended a 12-game slide. The work, however, is just beginning. "I saw tough stretches, but I don't think this is indicative of the type of team we are," Epstein said before the game. "I think we're clearly better than this." Only seven times in their cursed history had the Cubs dropped 12 or more in a row, and they entered Monday's game on their worst losing streak since they started the 1997 season with a franchise-record 14 straight defeats. For all the optimism surrounding Epstein's arrival as president of baseball operations in the offseason, the results are awfully familiar. Of course, he needs time. He also realizes something needs to change. One thing that won't is the plan. Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer said they will continue to build for the future, but they don't want this season to get worse than it already is. "On both fronts, short- and long-term, there's work to do," Epstein said. "In the short term, in the trenches, there's a lot of work to do to get ourselves to a respectable level. This is a bad stretch. Just sort of appeal to the base instincts and start scrapping and keep grinding for pride. Long term, it underscores the magnitude of the job here and sort of how far we need to go to get where we want to be." On Monday, they let out a sigh of relief. A big one, at that. Not since they beat St. Louis on May 14 had they won a game, and the losses certainly were wearing on them. "We lost 10 in a row, but now that's in the past, so now we have to try to win 10 in a row," Alfonso Soriano said after collecting three hits with a home run. "We have to turn it around. You have to believe in this team because we're not that bad." The Cubs brought in Epstein and Hoyer, hoping they would help lift that championship albatross that's been hovering over them for more than a century. Chicago last won it all in 1908, when the Model T was rolling off the assembly line. With a new management team in place, there was a new sense of hope when the season began. After all, Epstein built the team that in that in 2004 ended Boston's 86-year championship drought and then won another title in 2007. For now, the Cubs are simply taking their hits. Hoyer called the losing streak "torturous" and insisted better times are ahead. Manager Dale Sveum sympathized with the players before the game, and when it was over, he made no effort to hide his relief. He played for Milwaukee in 1987 and was a part of a 12-game losing streak that year. That team ultimately finished with 91 wins. "Let's not kid yourself," said Sveum, in his first season as Cubs manager. "You lose 12 in a row, you finally win ... thank God I didn't break my streak. It's a big relief. All the guys, like I said today, you feel bad for them. It's tough. It shows you sometimes how tough it is to win a major league baseball game. Then to lose 12 in a row ... hopefully something like that gets everything going, the bats." Hoyer called the skid "a really painful bump that we're going through right now on the way to get there." The starting pitching, with Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster leading the way, has been solid. The bullpen has been a mess, repeatedly blowing games. Carlos Marmol lost his job as the closer, and Kerry Wood struggled before retiring. At the plate, things haven't been much better. Only three major league teams scored fewer runs entering Monday and with a .244 average, the Cubs ranked 21st. "We're losing right now and teams are beating us and we're on this kind of a streak, and it seems like a bad dream," said Bryan LaHair, one of the few bright spots in the lineup with a .312 average and 10 homers. "But if you're not becoming more hungry to want to win and go on 12-game winning streaks, then I don't know. I know it's what it's doing to me." He said it's not tough to show up at the ballpark. It is tough to leave during a stretch like this. "It beats you down more after the game than before because you've lost," LaHair said. It's not what Soriano envisioned when he signed that 136 million, eight-year contract before the 2007 season. He thought he was going to help the Cubs capture that elusive championship, and they came close, making the playoffs during his first two years. Since then, they've been on a steady decline and so has the veteran slugger. "Sometimes, it's like hard to believe where we are right now," Soriano said. "We played so good. And the last 12 games, we're nothing." Hoyer said the Cubs are "very open" to making changes, but they don't want to be "dumping guys off just to make a point." They would probably love to trade Soriano, but finding takers is not easy. Dempster has an expiring contract and might be attractive to a contender. Garza might be, too. He's eligible for arbitration after the season, and the Cubs might want to keep the 28-year-old. "When you rip the scab off, sometimes there's some pain until we grow some new skin," Epstein said. "We're going places. This is a tough road."

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Need to Know: Five key moments from Redskins vs. Giants

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: Five key moments from Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, November 24, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden conference call 3 p.m.  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 16
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 23
—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 30

The five key plays from Redskins vs Giants

Giants convert a third and 14 in the second quarter—This play just shouldn’t happen. Prior to this play New York had been 0 for 22 when trying to convert third and 12 or longer. But Eli Manning found Roger Lewis on the right sideline for a gain of 19. That kept alive a drive that ended with the Giants getting on the scoreboard first with a field goal.

Josh Doctson draws a pass interference flag late in the first half—The Redskins offense could get nothing going for most of the first half. After getting the ball at the Giants 48 with 1:04, they utilized Doctson for the first time. On first down, Kirk Cousins launched a pass toward Doctson who had cornerback Ross Cockrell beaten deep down the left sideline. Cockrell decided it would be better to give up a big play than give up a touchdown so he grabbed Doctson’s right arm, drawing a pass interference flag that put the ball at the 11. The Redskins couldn’t punch it in but a Nick Rose field goal tied the game just before halftime.

Kirk Cousins TD pass to Jamison Crowder—Again the Redskins got good field position in the third quarter and this time they took maximum advantage. They drove from midfield to a third and goal at the 15. Cousins couldn’t find anyone and scrambled to his right. That gave Crowder time to find some open space in the middle of the end zone. Cousins found him and fired a strike. It was Crowder’s first touchdown of the year and the Redskins had a 10-3 lead.

Janoris Jenkins 53-yard interception return—Later in the third quarter, Cousins just was looking for a little field position before punting and his pass to new third-down back Byron Marshall near the left sideline sailed high. It bounced off of Marshall’s hands and into the arms of Jenkins. They don’t call him  "Jackrabbit" for nothing and he sped into the end zone to tie the game at 10.

Cousins 14-yard touchdown pass to Josh Doctson—The Redskins were making the cardinal mistake of letting the underdog hang around. With the score still tied, the clock ticked under four minutes as Washington faced a second and eight at the 14. Cousins made a play-action fake and looked to the end zone. Doctson, who had Jenkins, the Giants best defensive back, covering him, lined up on the left and ran towards the post. Just as he got to the goal line he made a cut to the sideline. That got him a little separation from Jenkins and Cousins dropped the pass on the money for the winning touchdown.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Game 24: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 24: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (12-10-1) take on the Lightning (16-3-2) Friday, November 24 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 4:00 p.m. followed by Capitals GameTime at 4:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington following the game for Caps Extra, Caps Overtime at 8:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 9 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING PROJECTED LINES

Here are the Caps' projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Offensive lines
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Defensive pairs
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - John Carlson
Taylor Chorney - Madison Bowey

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches
Nathan Walker, Tyler Graovac, Aaron Ness, Christian Djoos (upper-body injury), Andre Burakovsky (LTIR)

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.