Celebration time over, Cubs beat LA and focus on defending World Series title


The banner-raising ceremony at Wrigley Field, the championship-ring unveiling, the hovering TV crews and surging energy from the fans could have been distracting, emotionally draining and disruptive to the routines that players obsess over every day.

But if there's been any sort of hangover, it's hard to tell with the Cubs players who appear to be picking up where they left off last November. It's largely the same group that stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series – and could be playing together with that sense of confidence through 2021.

"It's been kind of a whirlwind, obviously, the last couple days, but we'll get back used to it," manager Joe Maddon said. "Great moment in Cubs history and now it's time to move forward."

The Cubs responded in every phase of the game during Thursday afternoon's 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning this National League Championship Series rematch with a good-enough start from Brett Anderson and a four-inning bullpen combination for October featuring Carl Edwards Jr., Koji Uehara and Wade Davis.      

The Cubs played spectacular defense – even though a replay review overturned Kyle Schwarber's ivy-touching bobble catch at the left-field wall – and the offense is showing signs of life in the cold weather. Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell drilled their first home runs this season into the right-field bleachers and onto Waveland Avenue, knocking out Dodger lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu in the fifth inning.

[MORE CUBS: Albert Almora Jr. is a big believer in defense wins championships]

The Cubs are 6-3 and have won each of the season's first three series, trying to distance themselves from 2016 and create a new identity.

"It was great to celebrate what we did," Schwarber said. "Now it's time to focus on trying to get back there and do it all over again, because that's the best feeling in the world, winning a World Series. It's a long road. We got to take it game by game. But we're really looking forward to the challenge."

Anderson had been part of the Dodger traveling party last October but not on the playoff roster when the Cubs won their first pennant in 71 years. The injury-prone lefty signed a one-year, prove-it deal and has now allowed one run through two starts (10.2 innings). An observer by nature, with a sarcastic sense of humor, the last few days left him with…

"A lot of envy," Anderson said, "especially now being the only guy on the active roster without a World Series ring. That's not fun. (Everyone else) got one yesterday or years prior. But I think (GM) Jed (Hoyer) said it right: It gives me personally that much more incentive to do my part or fill the holes that need to be filled going forward to hopefully give this team a chance to win another one."

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