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Calm Chris Sale ready for the challenge

White Sox third baseman KevYoukilis blasts home run fourth inning off Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis blasts a home run in the fourth inning off Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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The facts: 7:10, CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The pitchers: Justin Verlander (13-8, 2.91 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (16-6, 2.88).

Updated: October 15, 2012 9:35AM

White Sox left-hander Chris Sale understands the magnitude of his latest assignment: taking on Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.

“I think everyone knows what’s going on here,’’ Sale, 23, said Wednesday.

Facing media before Wednesday’s game — a contingent that is growing with each high-stakes September game — Sale sat by his locker knowing he’d be protecting a one-game lead in the American League Central or trying to give his team a somewhat-comfy three-game cushion with 20 games left. His emotions seemed well under control.

“I’ve said it before: You start hyping things up, you start trying to do too much, and that’s when the wheels start to fall off,’’ Sale said. ‘‘That’s not what we need. I just got to go out there with the same mind-set all year and just stick with the game plan and go with it.”

Sale, who was outpitched by Verlander 11 days ago in Detroit, bounced back with six solid innings against the Royals on Saturday. He is 8-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his last nine starts at home.

Dunn remains sidelined

Adam Dunn was out of the lineup for the sixth consecutive game with a strained right oblique.

“I don’t even know how to kind of explain it,’’ Dunn said. “It feels fine when I pick up a bat and swing it [in the clubhouse], and then I go and try to hit and I don’t know if it’s because you tighten up or what, but it kind of grabs you. If it happens again as bad as it was, I’m done.’’

Dunn came back too soon after straining it the first time, so he’s more cautious even though it’s increasingly frustrating being on the bench in a pennant race.

‘‘It’s terrible,’’ he said.

Against tough right-hander Max Scherzer, left-handed-hitting Dan Johnson was the designated hitter and switch hitter Orlando Hudson played second base in place of right-handed-hitting Gordon Beckham.

Workin’ for the weekend

Rookie left-hander Hector Santiago was slated to open the Sox’ nine-game road swing that begins in Minnesota on Friday, but that was contingent on him not being needed in relief Wednesday. Santiago relieved Gavin Floyd in the fifth with the Sox trailing 2-1.

The Sox had Francisco Liriano as the backup plan for Friday’s start against the Twins.

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