It was not Shaw's fault that the Boston Unions lost to-day's game. The blame can be laid to poor base-running and costly errors behind the bat. The visitors found Shaw even harder to hit than in his former game against them, and their perplexing endeavors to hit the sphere were as laughable to their companions as to the spectators. Shaffer cut up some wonderful antics in his frantic efforts to hit the ball, Brennan and Whitehead struck out every time they came to the bat, and every man went out on strikes except Rowe, the total number being eighteen. Boyle pitched a very fine game and the Boston Unions gave a poor exhibition of their batting abilities. The only run of the game was made in the sixth inning when Gleason's third strike was muffed by Brown and fielded so poorly that the runner got two bases. Rowe's out took him to third and a wild pitch enabled him to score. Three times the St. Louis had men on third only to be left, as Shaw invariably was too much for their successors, who failed even to hit the ball. In the fourth inning Murnan made a hit and stole second, and in attempting to score on Shafer's fumble of Shaw's hit was thrown out at the plate. In the eighth McCarty made a fine three-base hit, and had he remained upon that base would undoubtedly have scored, as Butler followed with a single, but he was foolishly coached on, at once depriving the nine of a chance to tie or win. The infielding of the St. Louis was very fine. Umpire Sullivan was unjustly hissed while leaving the grounds.-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 20, 1884
I saw that Shaw struck out eighteen guys in a game and thought that he had set the record for most strikeouts in a game. But he did not. On July 7, 1884, both Charlie Sweeney, pitching for Providence, and Hugh Daily, pitching for the Chicago Unions, each struck out nineteen guys.
Later in the season, Henry Porter, pitching for the Milwaukee Unions, also struck out eighteen guys. So without looking anything up, I'm guessing that strikeouts were way up in 1884.