Vazquez (7-8, 4.54)
Lawrence (5-8, 4.14)
As Stefan has already pointed out, who do we root for here? The Padres, to kill off our division hopes and prevent a senseless trade, or the D'backs because...well, 'cos they're our team, and that's who we're supposed to root for? I prefer to think of this dilemma optimistically, and will take whatever I can from the game, win or lose.
The Padres seem confident: I mean, over at Gaslamp Ball, they're writing Japanese poetry, f'heavens sake. Oh, those wacky Californians. ;-) Can't say I blame them, facing a team which scored fourteen runs in total during a seven-game homestand, and is now coming to the cavernous, unfriendly confines of Petco, where offense goes to die.
The Padres infield is a couple of men down, with Loretta and Nevin both out, though their replacements have performed credibly. However, San Diego has been afflicted by the same malaise as the rest of the NL West: since the end of May, they're 15-22. All of which makes it hard to predict where this series will go. All the more so with Vazquez on the mound, who has been the most unpredictable of our rotation: he might be brilliant, or he may suck hard.
I think the opener will likely set the tone; if our offense continues to sputter, the chances of us winning, or even splitting the series, are slim. But I think Vazquez will make it equally hard for the Padres to score runs too. The last time Lawrence started, he got no run support at all, as San Diego were shut out - and that was in Coors Field. Mind you, they did score twenty runs in the other two games.
Therefore, no predictions for me: I'll simply be watching with a detached eye, and seeing how things progress.