The Houston Astros-New York Yankees game Tuesday night featured a dominant performance by Astros ace Justin Verlander and a game-winning three-run homer by Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez off an Astros reliever.
That high drama between baseball's best teams was drained by a parade of strikeouts. Verlander tied his career best with 14 strikeouts, and the Astros struck out 12 times against a Yankees progression of relievers.
As the game illustrates, baseball is now a game of home runs and strikeouts. The Astros-Yankees had a couple of fine fielding plays, and a few singles and doubles, but the strikeouts piled up until Sanchez's ninth-inning blast.
For years, hitters were taught to hit down on the ball, producing line drives. Now, in the frenzy to hit home runs, batters swing up on pitches, seeking to hit fly balls. All too often, the result's a whiff.
The prevalence of hard-throwing relief pitchers is another cause of the jump in strikeouts. Traditional dominant starting pitchers such as Verlander are an endangered species, taking away what was once a centerpiece of the game.
During the cold, damp opening month of April, major league baseball for the first time recorded more strikeouts than hits.
That's ominous for the game's future.